The off­load

Hon­esty un­der pres­sure

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby - Gavin Cum­miskey

An­gus Gard­ner’s de­ci­sion not to pe­nalise Owen Far­rell’s match win­ning tackle on An­dre Ester­huizen is be­ing pounded on so­cial me­dia.

One highly re­spected Ir­ish jour­nal­ist la­belled it “pa­thetic.” South African ref­eree Jonathan Ka­plan deemed the arm wrap an “af­ter­thought”.

This is true; rugby is built upon such mo­ments of phys­i­cal dom­i­nance.

For bet­ter or worse, Far­rell will not face any for­mal sanc­tion.

Mem­ory bank tech­nique de­mands ir­re­spon­si­ble brav­ery as cow­ardice guar­an­tees los­ing the col­li­sion, with con­cus­sion promised by tack­ling lower in such mo­ments.

At­tempts at sav­ing rugby have play­ers fac­ing this split sec­ond Catch 22. Faced with Ester­huizen’s stam­ped­ing run, Far­rell’s right shoul­der tor­pe­doed into the South African’s chest.

Grow­ing up in the shadow of a Rugby League king, Eng­land’s “spir­i­tual leader” – ac­cord­ing to Ed­die Jones – clearly loves the col­li­sion, fist pump­ing the Twick­en­ham sky when Gard­ner de­creed on Satur­day: “I be­lieve there is enough of a wrap on the far side for it to be a fair tackle.”

Far­rell’s left arm touched the South African, even glanc­ing the ball un­der his right arm, but physics de­nied him a solid solid grip.

Give Andy Far­rell’s son the sight of Ester­huizen in minute 80 of a two-point test match and ev­ery time he will seeks to oblit­er­ate. Tech­nique is in­grained but the nip­ple line was his tar­get.

What seems cer­tain af­ter re-watch­ing Ester­huizen’s whiplash and Far­rell’s stunned col­lapse to the floor is both men should be en­tered into the Head In­jury As­sess­ment re­turn to play pro­to­cols.

The mar­gin of Gard­ner call­ing a Spring­bok penalty and Far­rell yel­low card is pa­per thin.

His de­ci­sion was not pa­thetic. It was hon­esty un­der suf­fo­cat­ing pres­sure.

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