England captain Owen Farrell to miss the start of the World Cup after receiving a four-game ban by an appeal committee for his dangerous tackle against Wales; Steve Borthwick now faces another anxious wait over the fate of Billy Vunipola
Last Updated: 22/08/23 10:03pm
Owen Farrell has received a four-game ban from an independent disciplinary panel and will miss England’s Rugby World Cup matches against Argentina and Japan.
Farrell will be unavailable for the crucial opening Pool D matches, with this month’s warm-up games against Ireland and Fiji also included in the suspension.
World Rugby had appealed against the decision of a disciplinary panel to downgrade Farrell’s red card for a high tackle against Wales at Twickenham on August 12 to yellow.
Farrell ploughed into Taine Basham’s head, causing the Wales flanker to fail an HIA.
The original disciplinary hearing cleared Farrell, finding mitigation in a late change in dynamics by Basham, but an outcry followed the failure to issue a ban and World Rugby appealed.
The appeal committee found that the original hearing had not considered Farrell’s failure to wrap when attempting the tackle, which had formed a key part of the bunker review system’s analysis when upgrading from yellow to red.
On this basis it was decided to hear the case afresh and after a video hearing that began at 7.30am and finished early evening it was decided that a sending-off was the right outcome because the hit on Basham was ‘always illegal’.
“The Appeal Committee 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,” a statement from Six Nations Rugby said.
“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.”
It brings to an end a saga that has unsettled England’s preparations for the World Cup and the plans of coach Steve Borthwick.
Both Borthwick and Andy Farrell, Owen’s father and Ireland coach, last week slammed the disciplinary process and criticised World Rugby’s decision to appeal.
Borthwick faces another anxious wait over the fate of the only specialist No 8 in his World Cup squad Billy Vunipola.
He received a red card in Saturday’s loss in Ireland, and could also miss several of England’s early games in the tournament. The verdict from his hearing is expected on Wednesday.
England, runners-up to South Africa at the 2019 World Cup, will also face Samoa and Chile in Pool D.
This year’s World Cup runs from September 8 to October 28 in France.
|September 9 (RWC)||vs||Argentina|
|September 17 (RWC)||vs||Japan|
|September 23 (RWC)||vs||Chile|
|October 7 (RWC)||vs||Samoa|
What’s next for England?
England next host Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday, August 26, in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up clash, before heading to France. They face Argentina in Marseille on Saturday, September 9 in their World Cup opener.