The England captain is free to play immediately


Owen Farrell has had his red card against Wales downgraded to yellow and is immediately free to play for England. Farrell had been in line for a potential six-game ban after being sent off for a dangerous tackle on Taine Basham.

In that instance, he could have missed the entirety of England’s pool stage at the Rugby World Cup. Even with any reduction he was expected to be ruled out of the opening game against Argentina and possibly the second clash with Japan.

Read more: Farrell red card puts World Cup in doubt after England discipline disaster

However, the 31-year-old has seen his red card rescinded and no ban handed out. Farrell was initially shown yellow by Georgian ref Nika Amashukeli before the new TMO video bunker system upgraded the decision to red.

The U-turn is due to the failure of the bunker to take into account the interference of England hooker Jamie George whose actions are said to have altered the path of Wales flanker Basham.

Why there is no Owen Farrell ban

The ruling said: “The Committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier. This mitigation was sufficient to bring the act of foul play below the red card threshold.”

Farell admitted he had committed an act of foul play but denied it warranted a red card.

It is a tremendous result for England head coach Steve Borthwick who was staring down the prospect of being denied the services of his captain at the World Cup with an Owen Farrell ban widely expected.

England’s lawyer, Richard Smith KC, successfully fought Farrell’s case despite his past disciplinary run-ins.

Many had expected Farrell to be hit with a large ban as he had already attended World Rugby’s tackle school in January in order to reduce a four-match ban, for a high tackle on Gloucester’s Jack Clement, and make himself available for Borthwick’s first game in charge against Scotland in the opening round of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Related: What is tackle school?

Players who attend tackle school ordinarily cut a week off their ban. In the aftermath of Farrell’s red, World Rugby moved to clarify that players are only able to attend once.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.