RWC23: Owen Farrell suspended for four matches

Decision to downgrade red card to a yellow card was "manifestly wrong" rules appeal panel

England captain Owen Farrell has been slapped with a four match suspension. Image: © Craig Watson -
England captain Owen Farrell has been slapped with a four match suspension. Image: © Craig Watson -

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.

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“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

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About David Barnes 3663 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. A definite on Owen Farrell – four matches banned, including two World Cup games for him to miss for England against Argentina and Japan. That decision on OF came from a wide threesome – Nigel Hampton chairman (New Zealand) plus Shao-ing Wang (Singapore) and Donal Courtney (Ireland).

  2. It’s now the final step possible on the Owen Farrell case. Should that threesome be named?

  3. I confidently predict that when Farrell returns for the Chile game and receives a yellow or red card for his next attempt at decapitating an opponent, the disciplinary panel will take into account, as mitigation, the fact that he was not carded in the period from 18th August to 18th September 2023, when England had four games. His KC will present this as evidence of good conduct. He will be completely exonerated.

    I suggest that Mr. Farrell tries his tackle technique in Glasgow on a Saturday night where the “Glasgow Kiss” can be prevalent. My money would be on the “Kisser” .

  4. An extremely light sentence for a serial offender and a man of little character.

    I bet his equally unacceptable team mate Earl is whooping with delight.

  5. ‘Manifestly wrong’. Indeed it was, but why couldn’t the muppets on the overturning panel not see what the rest of the world could, leaving us all waiting for a another week to see the the overturning overturned? Will they not be allowed to serve on future panels? Ands is there another panel Farrell can now appeal to, say the Supreme Court or the House of Lords? And who independently appoints the independent panels? How many of them are there? Do they keep them in a wee cupboard somewhere, to be brought out for special occasions? And finally, since when was Farrell a person of good character, considering he is such a fractious, argumentative individual with a rap sheet as long as your arm for infringements great and small? So many questions!

  6. Strange to ban him from a game that has already taken place (v Ire) even though he was available, but was ‘voluntary stood down’.
    Still, they stumbled their way to the correct outcome in the end

  7. The correct decision with a shady penalty.

    OF could have played in Dublin so how the ban starts from that match is odd.

    Justice done eventually

    • sorry Dom but counting the Dublin game when he could have played is not justice done, its just ignoring WR regs. The appeal panel rightly criticised the original panel for ignoring the fact that the tucked arm meant the tackle never was and never could be legal; yet same appeal panel ignored regs on which matches should count, so reducing his ban, and do not appear to have considered aggravating factors like, a red card last season for the same offence, or 3 red cards in 3 years (which should have resulted in extra weeks). The appeal panel avoided justice by adopting the same head in sand partial application of the disc code. The system is broken

  8. Remorse?
    Acceptance of foul play?
    Good character?
    So, what happened that suddenly brought out these confessions &, with all his previous exploits deemed examples of being a fine upstanding young man.

    Sorry if this sounds like the ramblings of an old guy, but it all sounds a bit like a pat on the head & instruction that a short detention for Farrell Minor will see the slate wiped clean.

    • Totally agree. Punch somebodys lights out then say “sorry I nearly killed you” like I have done on previous occasions and be considered an upstanding example

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