ENGLAND captain Owen Farrell has been suspended from rugby for four matches, after last week’s controversial decision by a Six Nations convened disciplinary panel to rescind the red-card he received against Wales on 12th August was overturned following an appeal by World Rugby.
With last weekend’s defeat to Ireland, for which Farrell was stood down by the England coaching team, counting towards the suspension, Farrell will now miss England’s final World Cup warm-up match against Fiji on Saturday, plus the team’s first two pool matches at the tournament against Argentina on 9th September and Japan on 17th September.
The Appeal Committee met earlier today [Tuesday] and unanimously determined that in the original hearing the Disciplinary Committee should have considered the attempt of the player to wrap his opponent in the tackle. This point did not feature in the original decision.
“The failure to attempt to wrap was judged to be an important element of the Foul Play Review Officer’s (FPRO) report and had led to an upgrading of the referee’s yellow card to a red card during the match,” ruled the appeal panel.
“As this element did not feature in the original decision, the Appeal Committee decided it was in the interests of justice to hear the case afresh on that key point alone, which included hearing from the player.
“Following the review by the Appeal Committee of this key element, it was determined that the FPRO was correct in his decision leading to the red card. The Appeal Committee subsequently determined that the tackle was ‘always illegal’.
“When applying the terms of World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, no mitigation can be applied to a tackle that is ‘always illegal’.
“The Appeal Committee therefore considered that the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to downgrade the red card to a yellow card had been manifestly wrong, which led to the Disciplinary Committee’s decision being overturned, the appeal brought by World Rugby being allowed, and the red card upheld.
“In considering sanction, the Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head (six-matches). Taking all considerations into account, including the player’s acceptance of foul play, clear demonstration of remorse and his good character, the Committee agreed a four-match suspension.
“The Appeal Committee accepted submissions on behalf of the player that the Ireland v England match on 19 August 2023, for which the player was voluntarily stood down would be included as part of the sanction. Therefore, the suspension applies to the following matches:
- Ireland v England on 19th August 2023
- England v Fiji on 26th August 2023
- England v Argentina on 9th September 2023
- England v Japan on 17th September 2023