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Six Nations statement: Why the Owen Farrell red card was rescinded

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Six Nations have issued a statement explaining the decision by an independent disciplinary hearing to free the red-carded Owen Farrell to play again with immediate effect. There were grave fears that the England skipper could be banned for up to six matches following last Saturday’s incident with Wales’ Taine Basham at Twickenham.


Farrell was initially given a yellow card but was soon told while sitting in the sin bin that the sanction was being upgraded to a red card following review by the TMO bunker.

However, rather than England having to deal with their captain being unavailable for the start of their Rugby World Cup campaign on September 9 versus Argentina in Marseille, he has instead been cleared to play and is available for selection for this Saturday’s Summer Nations Series game away to Ireland in Dublin.

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Kiwi pundits react to Owen Farrell’s red | The Breakdown

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Kiwi pundits react to Owen Farrell’s red | The Breakdown

A statement following the three-and-a-half hour judicial hearing read: “England fly-half Owen Farrell appeared before an independent judicial committee via video link having received a red card for an act of foul play contrary to law 9.13 (a player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously; dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders) in the Summer Nations Series match between England and Wales on Saturday, August 12.

“The independent judicial committee consisting of Adam Casselden (SC, chair), John Langford and David Croft (all from Australia) heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representative. The player acknowledged that whilst he had committed an act of foul play, he denied that the act was worthy of a red card.


“After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail and hearing submissions from the player’s representative, the committee concluded that the foul play review officer was wrong on the balance of probabilities to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card.

“The committee determined, when applying World Rugby’s head contact process, that mitigation should be applied to the high degree of danger found by the foul play review officer. The committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England No2’s interaction [Jamie George] in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier.


“In the committee’s opinion, this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red card threshold. The committee believes it is important to record that no criticism is made of the foul play review officer nor would any be warranted.

“Unlike the foul play review officer, the committee had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident and the proper application of the head contact process.

“The committee believes this is in contrast to the foul play review officer, who was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes without the benefit of all the additional material including hearing from the player and his legal representative.

“On that basis, the committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again immediately.”


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Isikeli 331 days ago

Well if you going to bring a KC can the minor nations use him too paid for by World Rugby? I say get rid of this red card fiasco and introduce a reporting regime post game and penalty of course.

Euan 331 days ago

It was the right decision, as he was merely defending himself from a sudden direction change. Red card was ridiculous.

Gee 331 days ago

Corruption. Need to get the leader of the corrupt pack to front up to the rugby public and explain how this was rescinded and he has 0 match bans. He keeps doing it and getting away with it. I guarantee in the world cup you will see a shoulder charge not as bad as Farrell's and the player involved will have a multiple match ban. Do yourself a favour and watch the Farrell's shoulder tackle against the Bok Andre Esterhuizen. I've never seen anything that bad in 20 years. Went unpunished. I hope someone puts that bastard in a wheelchair.

Viliami 331 days ago

And Tongas star centre George Moala gets 20 weeks suspension for his red card in Tongas match against Canada over the weekend. Totally Unbelievable!!

Steffen 332 days ago

Absolutely ridiculous and a demonstration of selective interpretation of the Law and subsequent decision making. 😡

TQ 332 days ago

The decision isn’t absurd. If there is mitigation, which there is here because of the change in direction, the foul play may be downgraded to a yellow card. What everything turns on is whether or not the mitigation is sufficient - which is an entirely subjective call. But for the change in direction, Farrell wouldn’t have hit is head - so was not unreasonable to make the call they did.
The three JOs on the panel are much more experienced and in a better placed to make that subjective call than anyone here / than the mob. The problem is the judicial framework, which WR try all the time to make more of a consistent and legally robust process, but which leads to more decisions like this that offend against rugby common sense!

Bernard 332 days ago

The panel must be the only people on the planet who thought that George's "push" on Basham was sufficient mitigation for their decision.

John 332 days ago

It's beyond outrageous this thug has a history of trying to seriously injure opposition players and his record shows this this is a decision that was bought and paid for it's that simple their is no other reason for such a blatantly crass decision as this. It's idiots like this panel who are destroying our game there is absolutely no excuse for this and there is no mitigation what so ever other than to ensure this thug can play in the world cup. This has destroyed any faith that fans of this game have in its ruling body they should be all sacked.

Robert 332 days ago

so world rugby set the standard for this RWC.
so each and every red card dished out has to be treated as per Farrel saga - this has opened a can of WTF if you asked me...sad and disappointing...

giorgi 332 days ago

Oh, yes- "England No2’s interaction". Well further it will be the rain, the snow, a muddy pitch, a bird even a mosquito affecting dynamics.

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