Farrell and England sweat over suspension
Owen Farrell will discover tomorrow whether he will miss England’s rescheduled Six Nations finale against Italy and the autumn international Eight Nations campaign after his red card for a high tackle on Wasps replacement Charlie Atkinson on Saturday.
The 28-year-old England captain received the first red card of his professional career after he felled the Wasps academy player, who was appearing in just his second Premiership fixture, with a high tackle.
As a result, his chances of playing in the Champions Cup quarter-final meeting with Leinster on Sept 19 have been severely dented.
A three-person judiciary panel will decide Farrell’s fate. It will consist of former lawyer and district county judge Mike Hamlin, acting as chair alongside barrister and sports law expert Gareth Graham and former England, Leicester and Gloucester player Leon Lloyd.
There has been much debate surrounding how severe Farrell’s punishment should be. It should count in his favour that it was his first red card, he immediately showed contrition and apologised to Atkinson as the 18-year-old hobbled off the field. However, due to a history of high tackles, he could be given a longer ban.
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio fears the worst. “We know Owen plays hard, he plays on the edge, but that is bad, and he will get a lengthy ban”, he told BT Sport. “We know it’s been a problem with Owen. He’s going to really struggle.
“He knows he’s completely mistimed that, he’s hooked him around the neck and that is bad news for Saracens with that Champions Cup quarter-final in two weeks and I suspect he’ll miss quite a lot of the remainder of this season for sure.”
was controversy in 2018 over similar incidents in the Test arena after Farrell escaped punishment for tackles on South African Andre Esterhuizen and Australian Izack Rodda. The entry-level ban for an infringement of the nature of Farrell’s is two weeks. However, as Farrell was cited in 2016 for a dangerous tackle on another Wasps player, scrum-half Dan Robson, the punishment could be seen to come in at the mid-level, which is six weeks. England play Italy on Oct 31.
There have never been suggestions Farrell’s propensity for misplaced tackles has been malicious, with Wasps head coach Lee Blackett saying “Owen didn’t mean it” after the match, which was poised at 15-15 before the sending-off.
Jimmy Gopperth, who was Farrell’s opposite number, kicked 23 of Wasps’ points as he captained the side on his 100th Premiership appearance for the club. Of Farrell’s tackle, he said: “It wasn’t great. And to be fair to Owen Farrell, he was very sorry straight away. But you don’t like to see that happen to the young kid. Charlie said to me at the end: ‘That wasn’t in the script.’ He will bounce back. He’s a great young kid.”
The Farrell incident overshadowed a key victory for an understrength Wasps against an almost full-strength Saracens starting XV.
The hosts appeared to be in dress-rehearsal mode for their European quarter-final, with Elliot Daly scoring within moments of the start, only for Wasps to grind down what seemed like a distracted Saracens side with Farrell and usually talismanic team-mates Maro Itoje and club captain Brad Barritt not looking mentally in the match.
After 51 minutes, Saracens seemed to up their game as wing Sean Maitland dotted down, but, after Farrell’s sending-off, they flagged.
Wasps’ only try came from the impressive Tom Willis, the 21-yearold brother of Jack – who was not in the matchday squad – who played on the blind side and sealed victory with a late score.
‘I suspect he will miss quite a lot of the remainder of the season’