Owen Farrell faces yet another ban for high tackle

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Owen Farrell, the England captain, has been cited for a dangerous tackle in Saracens’ victory over Gloucester on Friday night, putting in doubt his availability for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign against Scotland.

Farrell made contact with the head of Gloucester’s Jack Clement with under six minutes left of the game at Kingsholm. While the contact was picked up on by the television match official, Claire Hodnett, the incident was not officially reviewed with referee Karl Dickson given the TMO could not determine whether the tackle had taken place in the same passage of play.

As a result Farrell was not punished and went on to land a match-winning drop goal with the final kick of the game, extending Saracens’ lead at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table. It was the second time this season a late Farrell strike had sunk Gloucester.

Farrell has since been cited under World Rugby Law 9.13 for dangerous tackling, with the incident viewed as a red card-worthy offence by the citing commissioner. He will face a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday evening with an independent  panel to determine whether he is guilty of the charge, which could lead to a suspension.

Farrell has been banned twice previously in his career for dangerous tackling, the most recent incident coming in 2020 when he received a five-week suspension following a tackle which concussed Charlie Atkinson. 

That punishment was reduced from the original entry point of 10 weeks following a number of testimonies by Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall, then England head coach Eddie Jones and also a charity who partnered with Farrell. He was also banned for two weeks back in 2016 for a dangerous tackle on Wasps’ Dan Robson.

The combination of Farrell’s previous suspensions may mean that he is unlikely to receive any substantial mitigation this time around. 

Dangerous tackle bans tend to be around three weeks, with players potentially reducing their punishment by a week if they attend a coaching intervention programme run by World Rugby, often referred to as ‘tackle school’, where players revise their tackle technique to avoid future offences. 

The programme was adopted into regulation by World Rugby late last year following a successful pilot period, with eight out of 120 players receiving further red cards after returning to matches.

Given England’s game with Scotland falls on February 4, a four-week suspension (dating from the tackle on Clement) would rule Farrell out of England’s opening Six Nations fixture.

Source: telegraph.co.uk