An independent disciplinary hearing panel’s decision to reduce a ban for England captain Owen Farrell from ten weeks to five based on various testimonials has not gone down very well. The Saracens fly-half was handed the suspension on Tuesday night for his red card offence in last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership contest with Wasps.
The panel deemed the high tackle on Charlie Atkinson “reckless and not intentional”, with independent panel chair Mike Hamlin adding: “Testimonials provided by Mark McCall, Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality.”
This resulted in the ban being halved to ‘five meaningful matches’, an outcome that has caused quite a stir on social media.
Many disgruntled people feel Farrell’s charity work was irrelevant when it came to dangerous play on a rugby field. In a collision that left Atkinson unconscious, which many have branded as potentially “career-ending”, a mass of people felt any prior charity work should have had no bearing on the hearing decision.
The input of McCall and Jones, the respective Saracens and England head coaches of Farrell, was also questioned as it was in both of their interests to have the player’s ban reduced as much as possible.
He faced a 10-game ban before off-field mitigation factors were taken into accounthttps://t.co/lz6AUdyenw
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 8, 2020
While a five-game ban has clearly displeased some, there was always a sense that any length of a ban was going to be controversial. It didn’t take much trawling through Twitter to see that many people were gunning for far longer bans than were perhaps unnecessary and wildly outside World Rugby’s sanctions for foul play.
A ten-game ban would not have caused as much of an outcry, but the 50 per cent reduction incensed. Farrell will be able to return to play from October 5, meaning he will miss Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster this month but won’t miss any of England’s games which start in late October.
When I read this last night I was really quite annoyed. The testimonial from the charity founder really has no relevance to sanctioning foul play, especially where a player has essentially committed an assault on the field of play.https://t.co/19DUqhGlW0#Farrell #rugby [1/2]
— Kevin Carpenter (@KevSportsLaw) September 9, 2020
Owen Farrell tackle was 'dangerous, reckless but not intentional'.
Ban reduced from 10 matches to 5 because he does a bit for charity!
Disagree with the intentional part. He knows the rules.
— Milena ZP???????????? (@MilenaZP_) September 9, 2020
I don't understand the relevance of the testimonial from the charity which Owen Farrell works with.
How can this be a deciding factor when reviewing his tackle which, by the way, is the worst I've seen since the new World Rugby laws were introduced. pic.twitter.com/LfMZKpkIG4
— Tom Pritchard (@TomJPritchard) September 8, 2020
I fail to see why Farrell's off field Charidee work has any bearing on the fact he's a repeat-offending dangerous cheat on field. pic.twitter.com/52a8bToyXg
— Calvin (@WelshEcon) September 9, 2020
Five weeks for Farrell?!?
Made absolutely no attempt to make a legitimate tackle.
Smoked a bloke in the back of the head, with his shoulder.
Regardless of what he does for charity, or how much of a nice bloke he is, that deserved a longer ban.#Farrell
— joshua marchant (@JoshuaMarchant) September 9, 2020
Oh dear. @EnglandRugby Supporting a player is one thing, but manipulating a disciplinary panel with tales of “good work for Charity” to get your man back is not Rugby. Farrell could have ended Atkinson’s career with his often repeated shocking tackle. Shame on you. #owenfarrell
— Simon Carter (@balatacarter) September 9, 2020
What have other people’s testaments and charities got to do with a decision based on what was a serious, potentially career ending, maybe worse, tackle? It was pure filth, but do some charity work and it’s ok? Nowt against Farrell but we are clearing the game up or we aren’t!
— Alex Campbell (@Alexbcampbell2) September 9, 2020
Speechless that the fact Farrell does alot of charity work has reduced punishment for (and trying to) decapitate an opponent.
Blazer boys strike again
— Andy Thomas (@andy_thomas89) September 9, 2020
Ban reduced from the entry-point by 50% after glowing testimonials from Eddie Jones and the charity Farrell works for. Yeah, there’s clearly no bias there. And back just in time to play for England. It just stinks! ?
— Ray Palmer (@raystratman) September 8, 2020
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