Rugby World Cup 2023: Owen Farrell red card appealed by World Rugby

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World Rugby is set to contest the decision that reversed the red card issued to England captain Owen Farrell during the match against Wales.

Originally shown a yellow card, Farrell’s penalty was elevated to a red card through the new ‘bunker’ review system due to a high tackle incident.

However, a disciplinary panel assessed the situation on Tuesday and identified mitigating factors, leading to the reversal of the dismissal.

World Rugby, emphasizing player welfare as its foremost priority, expressed its intention to appeal this decision in a statement.

Should World Rugby’s appeal prove successful, Farrell would miss a significant portion of England’s World Cup pool stage matches.

In England’s recent 19-17 victory over Wales, Farrell became the first English player to receive a red card through rugby’s new review system after executing a high tackle on Taine Basham.

Yet, an independent judicial committee later revoked the 31-year-old’s expulsion, granting him the opportunity to contribute to England’s World Cup endeavors.

An Independent Appeal Committee will now be formed to address the matter at the earliest feasible moment.

The statement emphasized World Rugby’s commitment to an independent disciplinary process that upholds the sport’s values and integrity, particularly in matters involving head contact.

While further details about the hearing will be confirmed by Six Nations Rugby, England is scheduled to play Ireland and Fiji on August 26 as part of their preparations for the World Cup.

The committee that overturned Farrell’s red card noted hooker Jamie George’s involvement in the tackle, which altered Basham’s trajectory.

Opinions on the original decision’s overturning vary. France’s defense coach Shaun Edwards supports the reversal, while former England fly-half Paul Grayson believes Farrell had initiated the tackle and questions George’s role as a mitigating factor.

Shane Horgan, a former Ireland international, speculated that the Australian composition of the panel might have influenced the outcome due to differing perspectives on player welfare.

Farrell has previously served suspensions, and in January, the RFU implemented a tackle height reduction in community rugby to enhance player safety, given the rising concern over head injuries.

Before the red card’s reversal, Farrell faced the prospect of a six-game ban, considering the mid-range punishment, due to a three-week suspension for a similar offense in January.

England’s World Cup pool includes matches against Japan, Chile, and Samoa.

While World Rugby’s intervention is significant, its success is not guaranteed. The case hinges on whether Farrell’s tackle was intrinsically “illegal” due to his arm position, which would impact the extent of mitigation. The governing body aims to support its officials and the Head Contact Process regardless of the outcome. The saga that has dominated rugby union news is far from over.

Source: BBC

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