Sir Clive Woodward predicts Saracens flyhalf Owen Farrell is facing missing the end of the Guinness Six Nations after his sending off for a high shot on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson. Writing in his Daily Mail column, Woodward also suggested that the tackle was borne out of a frustrating season for the England skipper.
Farrell faces a disciplinary panel on Tuesday evening where he will learn his fate, and Woodward is expecting a lengthy ban for ‘the most obvious high tackle red card you will ever see’.
“It was reckless, high, ill-disciplined and executed with huge force and he knew from the off that he was in trouble.”
“The consequences are going to be considerable. If it is considered a mid-range offence that usually results in a six-week ban, which might get halved if there is an admission of guilt and if his previously good record in terms of bans is taken into account,” wrote Woodward.
“But was that a mid-range offence? It was the most obvious high tackle red card you will ever see.
“For me that looked like a tackle born of frustration. It’s been a testing season for Farrell. There was the disappointment of how England failed to perform in the World Cup final and then the huge shock of Saracens being fined and then condemned to relegation for their salary cap offence.
“All that frustration came spilling out in the tackle. Farrell has to get these tackles out of his system. Not only can they cost his side dear but as the England captain he has to be better.
“The game is no longer willing to tolerate such dangerous tackles as the England captain is about to discover.”
And Woodward suggests Farrell could well now miss the conclusion of the Six Nations as a result. “And it could be touch and go as to whether he is available for England’s remaining Six Nations game in Rome in October.”
“Farrell is upright, out of control and flies in with a swinging arm intended to put Charlie Atkinson into next week or take his head off. It’s not just a mistimed tackle, it’s a horrific looking hit. He’s completely blindsided him.”
“Farrell is always trying to make big hits and he tackles high so he knows himself that he’s treading a very fine line. Player safety is rightly paramount nowadays, though, and he’s out of control more than he’s in control when he’s tackling like that.
“It absolutely shouldn’t matter that he’s Owen Farrell or that he’s the England captain when it comes to the disciplinary hearing this week. That goes both ways. He shouldn’t be made an example of just because of who he is but there definitely shouldn’t be any special leniency either.”
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio said he couldn’t defend the hit. “It’s a really bad one. I can’t defend that. We know Owen plays hard – he plays on the edge – but that is bad. And he will get a lengthy ban.
“We know it has been a problem for Owen because of his tackle height.
“He’s walloped him high. He knows that he has completely mis-timed his tackle. I’m not sure quite what he’s aiming for there.”
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