England captain Farrell to miss start of World Cup after ban appeal

rugby22 August 2023 19:59| © AFP
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Owen Farrell

England captain Owen Farrell will miss the first two games of the World Cup after World Rugby won their appeal against the controversial decision to overturn his red card, it was announced on Tuesday.

Farrell will be suspended for the Pool D matches against Argentina and Japan, with this month's warm-up games against Ireland and Fiji also included in the four-match ban.

World Rugby had appealed against the decision of a disciplinary panel to downgrade Farrell's red card to a yellow after his high tackle on Wales' Taine Basham at Twickenham on August 12.

The original decision to downgrade Farrell's punishment had triggered widespread criticism from across rugby.

Farrell has been banned for dangerous tackling several times in the past and has finally been sanctioned for the latest to scar the fly-half's career.

The Appeal Committee ruled that the disciplinary panel should have considered Farrell's attempt to wrap his opponent in the tackle.

The committee subsequently determined that no mitigation could be made for the tackle, which they said was "always illegal", and handed Farrell the four-game ban.

England's opening World Cup game is against Argentina on September 9 in Marseille.

"In the original hearing the Disciplinary Committee should have considered the attempt of the player to wrap his opponent in the tackle. This point did not feature in the original decision," a statement said.

"The failure to attempt to wrap was judged to be an important element of the Foul Play Review Officer's (FPRO) report and had led to an upgrading of the referee's yellow card to a red card during the match.

"Following the review by the Appeal Committee of this key element, it was determined that the FPRO was correct in his decision leading to the red card.

"In considering sanction, the Committee applied World Rugby's mandatory minimum mid-range entry point for foul play resulting in contact with the head (six-matches).

"Taking all considerations into account, including the player's acceptance of foul play, clear demonstration of remorse and his good character, the Committee agreed a four-match suspension."