The debate raging in rugby about the definition of the tackle escalated last weekend after England's Owen Farrell escaped punishment for a hit on South Africa's André Esterhuizen during the game at Twickenham. Farrell was not cited for the incident, something South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus seems to have noticed.
The England co-captain hammered his shoulder into Esterhuizen and prompted referee Angus Gardner to review it. After first determining the height, the Australian ref then looked at the wrap as the law requires the tackler to use their arms. No penalty was given and the citing commissioner decided against citing him.
It has provoked a lively debate amongst current and former players as well as media and fans.
Reckon the ref got that Farrell hit spot on! Not enough evidence that there was no attempt to wrap an arm. Collision was MASSIVE. https://t.co/CX6zSSEAD8
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) November 3, 2018
I'm saying either both Farrell and Snyman were guilty or neither - consistency.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) November 4, 2018
Speaking after the game, South Africa head coach Erasmus said: "if it was legal, we should just do it because it is very effective." Now, footage has emerged of him teaching Esterhuizen how to tackle, given Farrell's attempt was deemed a legal hit.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 6, 2018
Erasmus's jibe, while comical, does reflect the significant grey area that has come to be associated with a legal tackle. Whatever the definition, at the very least it stakeholders should be able to expect consistency.