Far­rell lucky to es­cape sanc­tion for last-gasp ‘no-arms’ chal­lenge

Fly-half ’s dan­ger­ous tackle could eas­ily have brought ac­tion from the ref­eree and a win for South Africa

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - JONATHAN KA­PLAN

This match was a good old arm wres­tle, with South Africa do­ing most of the at­tack­ing in the first half and Eng­land dom­i­nat­ing the sec­ond, so it was in­evitable in a game of small mar­gins that there would be greater scru­tiny on a “tackle” such as Owen Far­rell’s on An­dre Ester­huizen.

Tak­ing off my South African hat and put­ting on an im­par­tial one, I am try­ing to be as ob­jec­tive as I can, but Far­rell can count him­self lucky to get away with that “no-arms” chal­lenge.

If a big man had hit a smaller man in sim­i­lar fash­ion, re­sult­ing in a “bro­ken” smaller man, it would prob­a­bly have re­sulted in a dif­fer­ent out­come. Think Bakkies Botha on Jonny Wilkin­son as an ex­am­ple.

Many peo­ple will think that if Far­rell’s tackle is not wor­thy of be­ing pe­nalised, then a lot of other tack­les would have to be re­assessed.

The arm wrap­ping around is an af­ter­thought.

In ad­di­tion, any tackle which starts chest-high and fin­ishes with snap­ping back the head of the ball car­rier is still def­i­nitely deemed to be dan­ger­ous all day, every day.

On this point, I would say I would not agree with the as­sess­ment of ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner and the Tele­vi­sion Match Of­fi­cial.

Out­side the de­ci­sion, which may or may not have re­sulted in a dif­fer­ent match out­come, I have to say that this con­test was played in an out­stand­ing spirit and ca­ma­raderie.

I thought on the whole that the ref­eree did well in the rest of the game. Gard­ner was spot-on with three other im­por­tant calls.

First, Maro Itoje’s yel­low card in the first half of the game was le­git­i­mate and fair.

Although he stopped Ivan van Zyl five me­tres short of the line with a su­perb tackle, he held on to the South African scrum-half, which was deemed cyn­i­cal.

Itoje’s pre­vi­ous in­fringe­ments in the game had no rel­e­vance to that de­ci­sion.

The South Africans will be kick­ing them­selves that they were not able to press home their nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage at that point.

The ref­eree also called it right on two key penal­ties late in the sec­ond half.

The first was when the South African scrum col­lapsed near the try line to al­low Far­rell to put Eng­land ahead. The sec­ond was when Eng­land’s scrum dis­in­te­grated just in­side their own half and Han­dre Pol­lard missed the op­por­tu­nity to re­store South Africa’s lead when his penalty hit the up­right.

Per­haps the game was won and lost when South Africa botched their field po­si­tion close to the Eng­land line with a minute to go and never tried a sim­ple dropped kick.

In a game of small mar­gins, that ap­peared the ob­vi­ous play.

Wrong call: Ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner should have taken ac­tion against Owen Far­rell for this dan­ger­ous tackle on An­dre Ester­huizen

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