Cen­tre’s up­right style is the root of his prob­lems

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Rugby Union - By Char­lie Mor­gan

Owen Far­rell clearly prefers mak­ing up­right tack­les. This may be a legacy of his back­ground in rugby league, but there are other fac­tors at play as well. As a fly-half or cen­tre, his chan­nel will of­ten be crowded with team-mates at­tempt­ing lower tack­les on the same car­rier – leav­ing him with nowhere else to go. A chief or­gan­iser in de­fence for both Saracens and Eng­land, Far­rell also yearns to set a tone with ag­gres­sive chal­lenges that wrap up po­ten­tial off­loads. Up­right tack­les reg­u­larly al­low him to re­main on his feet for the fol­low­ing phase. But they of­fer pre­cious lit­tle mar­gin for er­ror.

When Far­rell caught An­thony Wat­son around the jaw in the 2015 Premier­ship fi­nal, he was com­plet­ing a tackle that Mako Vu­nipola ini­ti­ated as part of a Saracens kick-chase. An off-the-ball tackle on Matt Giteau, which cost him a yel­low card against Aus­tralia later that year,

came af­ter Far­rell picked the wrong run­ner as the Wal­la­bies flooded the line. He has had prob­lems with a fail­ure to wrap his arms as well, which can re­flect a lack of con­trol. That is far more likely to be the is­sue than mal­ice or ig­no­rance of the laws. Iron­i­cally, the only tackle that had brought him a sus­pen­sion be­fore the week­end, on Dan Rob­son against Wasps in 2016, was made with Far­rell in a bent po­si­tion on im­pact. His speed into con­tact, al­lied to Rob­son’s slip, made the col­li­sion look far worse. There is a case that Char­lie Atkin­son also dipped slightly when throw­ing a dummy on Sat­ur­day. You will see swing­ing arms in plenty of tack­les at elite level. The vast ma­jor­ity land around the torso of their tar­gets. Far­rell con­nected far higher. Un­doubt­edly, he was clumsy and reck­less. Pos­si­bly frus­trated an hour into a flat per­for­mance – both from an in­di­vid­ual stand­point and from Saracens col­lec­tively – Far­rell at­tempted to line up Atkin­son and make a force­ful tackle around the 18-year-old’s chest. Thank­fully, Atkin­son seems to have re­cov­ered. Far­rell will pay the price.

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