Saracens skipper received a four-match ban but can face Scotland if he completes 'tackle school'
England captain Owen Farrell available for Six Nations despite ban
England captain Owen Farrell has been cleared to play in the Six Nations opener against Scotland after being handed a four-match ban for a high tackle against Gloucester on Friday night. However, the Saracens skipper must complete World Rugby’s Coaching Intervention Programme to remove a match from his ban and ensure he is available at Twickenham on 4 February.
Farrell was cited for making contact with the head of back-row Jack Clement, an incident that was picked up by TMO Claire Hodnett before no further action was taken by referee Karl Dickson after an apparent miscommunication about whether it had taken place before the last restart of play.
Farrell stayed on the field and went on to kick the winning drop-goal for league leaders Saracens at the death. The news is a massive boost to new England boss Steve Borthwick who is expected to hand Farrell the No 10 shirt and keep him as his captain for the Calcutta Cup after he skippered the side in Eddie Jones’s final Autumn Nations Series campaign last year.
The fly-half’s ban started at the mid-range of six weeks but was reduced by two weeks by the disciplinary panel because of the “player’s timely acknowledgment of his offending and considering his behaviour following the incident, during the hearing and leading up to the hearing, sitting alongside other mitigation available”.
Farrell admitted he thought he had initially made contact with Clement’s chest until he saw clips of the incident on the team bus coming back from Kingsholm and reached out to his opponent to apologise.
The England star denied he thought the offence warranted a red card, but the panel upheld the citing commissioner’s decision.
Related: Watch bonkers Owen Farrell pass
Farrell will miss Saracens’ Champions Cup games against Lyon and Edinburgh on 14 and 22 January, as well as the Premiership clash at home to Bristol Bears on 28 January. His initial ban also includes Mark McCall’s side’s trip to Leicester Tigers in the Premiership on 19 February, however that will be removed if Farrell completes his coaching intervention successfully.
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