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'One of the worst tackles I've ever seen': Even ex-Saracens lock Hamilton can't defend Owen Farrell

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Jim Hamilton, a former Champions Cup and Premiership title-winning Saracens teammate of Owen Farrell, has described the tackle that resulted in the England talisman’s sending-off last Saturday as “one of the worst tackles I have ever seen”.


Farrell is due to attend a virtual RFU disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night to learn what suspension he will have to serve for the red card that was given to him after he high tackled Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson during Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership home loss.

With a ban all but guaranteed for the crunching illegal tackle, Farrell is set to miss Saracens’ long-awaited Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final on September 19 at Leinster, the Irish club they defeated in the May 2019 final in Newcastle. 

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Former Scotland international Ian McGeechan talks about the British and Irish Lions
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Former Scotland international Ian McGeechan talks about the British and Irish Lions

However, there will be trepidation that how the bad the tackle was could even impact on his availability for England, who pick up the thread for 2020 with an October 25 outing versus the Barbarians at Twickenham six days before they travel to Rome to face Italy and complete their delayed Guinness Six Nations campaign. 

Ex-Scotland second row Hamilton, who played with Farrell at Saracens from 2015 through to his 2017 retirement, took issue with last Saturday’s red card incident when appearing on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, the weekly show he fronts with Andy Goode, the former England out-half.   

He said: “I watched the clip and it looked bad and then you see his name [Farrell] start trending on Twitter, and then you watch it back and watch it back and then I get carried away because I start watching stuff that other people are putting together, they start putting music over the top and compilations together and stuff, going down the social media route.


“I’m just watching that stuff and watching the reaction, some of the messages coming through, so let’s park that for now. I have now gone back and watched the highlights properly on the big plasma at home, no kids, so I’m fully engaged in it. What I didn’t want to do was piggyback Goodey’s tweet and be like I 100 per cent agree. 

“I’ve not put anything out about it because people know about my relationship with Owen, people know that it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m going to go to it – it’s one of the worst tackles I have ever seen. 

“Seriously. It doesn’t matter what we say or how we open people up or whatever, what will be will be. There are just some tackles that you see, it’s like punching someone in the face, right? It’s like if you ran up to someone and you’re running as fast as you can and punched them in the face, it’s completely unacceptable. 

“Now it’s not at that level because he has gone to make the tackle but the force in which he has hit him [Atkinson] and the height in which has hit him – and yes he is slightly dipping, there is a lot of chat about Atkinson’s age, only being a young lad, and that shouldn’t come into it. There is a part of that where it’s wrong, but he’s still a young lad, you know what I mean? 


“One of the other things about it was just the way it just stopped dead after he has made that tackle. Was it accidental? This is up for debate, we don’t know. But I’ll just go back to it again, I’ve watched it on TV on Monday on my own, no hidden agenda – that’s a f**kin’ bad tackle. 

“Like, as in I’d say that’s an awful tackle and you can’t get away from that and the more you watch it the worse it gets… it was coming, you tackle that high. If he has hit him low it’s an unbelievable tackle, unbelievable tackle. But he hasn’t. He has hit him high and he has knocked him out, the poor lad.”           


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