Farrell’s free to lead England as ban’shalved
ENGLAND captain Owen Farrell is free to lead his country into their Six Nations title bid against Italy next month after Eddie Jones’ testimony helped halve his ban for the reckless red card challenge on Wasps teenager Charlie Atkinson.
Jones’ men go into the October 31 Rome clash on Super Saturday locked in a four-way battle for the championship title with France, Scotland and Ireland.
A resounding England victory is likely to enable them to clinch top spot and the presence of playmaker Farrell will come as a significant boost.
The Saracens star was banned for five matches after the weekend incident which led to so much criticism.
But an independent disciplinary panel looking into the matter say Farrell “was entitled to a reduction from 10 matches to five meaningful matches”.
It means he is free to play again on October 5, releasing him for England’s autumn matches.
Disciplinary chiefs halved the ban after “applying off-field mitigating factors” and said “testimonials provided by Mark McCall [Saracens coach], Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality”
Independent panel chair Mike Hamlin said: “It was accepted by the RFU, the player and the panel that the offending was reckless and not intentional.”
England narrowly lead the Six Nations table on points difference from France.
The two countries are tied on 13 points.
Scotland come next on 10, with Ireland on nine. However, the men in green have a game in hand and everything is to play for when the tournament recommences with their home clash against Italy on October 24.
England meet the Barbarians at Twickenham the following day on October 25, a game Jones could use to get Farrell back up to match sharpness after his fivegame ban.
Next comes Super Saturday on Halloween, which kicks off with Wales against Scotland at a London venue still to be announced.
Italy and England then clash before the tournament is wrapped up with a France v Ireland evening kick-off.
As things stand England, France, Scotland and Ireland each hope to emerge as champions.
But England will be looking to pile on the pressure by racking up the points in Rome, with Farrell leading the charge.
Farrell misses Saracens’ most important game of the season, the Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster on September 19.