Owen Farrell receives shock World Cup reprieve as England captain’s red card is overturned

Owen Farrell has had his red card against Wales overturned and is free to play in their Rugby World Cup; England continue preparations with a warm-up match against Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on Saturday; “Decision makes a mockery of player welfare,” say Progressive Rugby

England captain Owen Farrell has had his red card against Wales overturned and is free to play in the Rugby World Cup this September.

Farrell was red-carded for a high tackle which saw his shoulder catch Taine Basham in the head during England’s comeback win at Twickenham last Saturday.

The 31-year-old appeared before a video disciplinary hearing on Tuesday morning, where he had the card overturned due to the mitigating factor that Jamie George had pushed Basham before he was hit.

In the hearing, it was decided that a “late change in dynamics” due to George’s involvement in the contact area “brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier”.

Using this mitigation it was decided by the all-Australian panel that Farrell – who was expected to face a mid-range sanction of a six-week suspension – should have been sanctioned with a sin-binning only.

England’s next six fixtures
World Cup warm-up vs Ireland August 19
World Cup warm-up vs Fiji August 26
World Cup pool stage vs Argentina September 9
World Cup pool stage vs Japan September 17
World Cup pool stage vs Chile September 23
World Cup pool stage vs Samoa October 7

It now means that Farrell can play in England’s final two warm-up games and, barring any further infringements, will be free to play in the entirety of his team’s World Cup campaign.

Following the decision, reaction came in from the England camp through fly-half George Ford, who told Sky Sports: “It is great news for us, we are over the moon as a squad.

“Today’s astounding decision to overturn the red card given to Owen Farrell for his tackle on Taine Basham has made a mockery of World Rugby’s claim that player welfare is the game’s number one priority,” the statement read.

“Additionally, despite protestations in the judgement to the contrary, it has critically undermined the newly introduced bunker process before a global tournament and eroded confidence in the game’s judicial process which is meant to help protect those playing the game.”


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