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Nigel Owens Fears Owen Farrell Saga Sets Worrying Precedent

Nigel Owens Fears Owen Farrell Saga Sets Worrying Precedent
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Ex-test referee Nigel Owens has questioned the process which has led to such a prolonged saga surrounding the punishment for England star Owen Farrell after his red card against Wales.

The suspension debate surrounding Farrell looks set to roll on for at least another few days, with the England fly-half's fate still up in the air and the Rugby World Cup fast approaching.

Farrell was initially sin-binned against Wales in last Saturday's warm-up game for a dangerous high tackle on Taine Basham, before the call was upgraded to a red card thanks to the newly introduced "bunker review."

However, in the days since, that call has been overturned by the independent Judicial Committee, who argued that a late change in direction from Farrell's teammate Jamie George had forced him into the tackle which earned him a red card.


World Rugby have confirmed that they intend to appeal the call by the Judicial Committee, with their new systems surrounding red cards potentially being drawn into question, should Farrell's red card be overturned.


Welshman Nigel Owens has spoken out on the incident, and said that he fears the consequences for rugby should the decision to overturn any suspension for Farrell be upheld.

READ HERE: Andy Farrell Is Furious Over Reaction To His Son Avoiding World Cup Ban


Nigel Owens gives scatching take on Owen Farrell saga

Writing in a column for Wales Online, Owens gave his take on the saga surrounding Owen Farrell's potential suspension from the World Cup - and he did not hold back.

Owens broke down the fact that there was no mitigation in Farrell's approach to the tackle, as the Englishman had always been approaching the tackle in an illegal manner, with no attempt to wrap. The Welshman pointed out that there was foul play, contact with the head, and a high degree of danger, all to add to the absence of any mitigation.

There is no mitigation for me, and there is certainly not enough to mitigate down from a red card, as it is foul play, there is a high degree of danger and there is an act of illegal ness which is leading from the shoulder.

That meets everything that the referee would be looking for to award a red card, and the general rugby public would all be expecting to see a red given for that.

The decision to red card Farrell on Saturday was made with the help of the newly introduced "TMO bunker," which sees players initially sin-binned before a dedicated panel of TMOs decide whether the offence is worthy of being upgraded to a red card during the ten-minute sideline period.

Owens, who refereed the 2015 said he feared for the game of rugby if this was the precedent the first use of the "bunker" set. He urged referees to be stronger in their on-field calls, and not to rely on the bunker to make difficult decisions for them:


I must add that this type of tackle would be a straight red for me, whether the bunker was there or not. I hope we don't see referees never giving red cards again becaue they just send them to the bunker - that's not what we should be doing as referees. The bunker is there to speed up the game when the decision could go either way, it shouldn't be needed for clear and obvious red cards.

But where we’ve seen the real uproar is the decision by three judicial officers who, for whatever reasons, saw the incident differently.

For me, it’s a red card and whatever the judicial outcome may be, it still has to be a red card.

This story isn't going away any time soon...

SEE ALSO: Eddie Jones Loses Rag With Journalists As Australia Depart For World Cup

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