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The snarky off the ball incident between Owen Farrell and Finn Russell

By Ian Cameron
Finn Russell and Owen Farrell get into it.

There’s not much that gets missed by cameras during a Guinness Six Nations game and thankfully a brilliant bit of mischief between Finn Russell and Owen Farrell was picked up yesterday at Twickenham.


England had been trying to get at Finn Russell all game, with some standard off-the-ball shoulder checks and the odd pointed tackle.

One such moment came a few beats before Duhan van der Merwe’s sensational, Lomu-esque try. Farrell melts Russell with a legal challenge that dislodges the ball as the Racing 92 playmaker attacked on the right flank, leading to a turnover.

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Video Spacer

The ball is then booted down field to Kyle Steyn, who passes it on to Van der Merwe, who begins his mazy run upfield.

An end-of-field camera then picks up the Russell – in the back ground – make a b-line for Farrell as Van der Merwe danced his way through the English defence. The Scot comes from behind and shoulder bumps an unwitting Farrell, who stumbles. Russell can be seen giving him an earful.

RugbyPass writer Ben Smith posted on Twitter: “Big tackle from Farrell on Russell forcing the turnover. Big effort from Russell to get back around moments later and let Farrell know about his non-attempt on the Van der Merwe try.”


Maybe the Scot was attempting to rub in just how poor Farrell’s non-attempt on the hulking winger was, although the centre did find himself someone obstructed by the clever blocking line of a Scottish player.

What made it all the riskier was that Russell got his bump before van der Merwe had even scored his try. There’s no doubt that England had a game plan to disrupt Russell and it may have worked to a degree, yet the final score suggests that even if the English won that minor skirmish, they lost the more important war on the scoreboard.

Indeed prior to the match, former England head coach Eddie Jones surmised that getting to Russell would be key for Steve Borthwick’s success in the fixture: “If Finn Russell plays, he gives Scotland an outstanding chance to win. It also means that if England get on top, Scotland will probably get hammered because he will keep taking risks under pressure and will give England more opportunities to score.”


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