The Saracens fly-half kicked a late three-pointer to down Gloucester


Should Owen Farrell high tackle have seen red before his DG winner?

A nervous wait is on for Owen Farrell after he was cited with a call to be made by the powers-that-be – will the Saracens fly-half make it to the first game of the Six Nations or will he miss out on the Calcutta Cup clash due to his actions in the last-gasp win against Gloucester?

Farrell made a clutch kick when it mattered most, dropping a goal in injury time to take the tie, 19-16. But before all that was a high shot that has had many around the game pondering how it possibly went unpunished.

And after that, he nailed this kick…

In real time, TMO Claire Hodnett had signalled to referee Karl Dickson that foul play needed looking at. However, Dickson said he believed the moment happened too many phases back to look – which is not actually in the laws.

As you will see from the above from former elite referee Nigel Owens, “there is no limit on phases for foul play”.

Owen Farrell high tackle history

In our piece The debate behind Owen Farrell’s tackle technique, it was explained by writer Jacob Whitehead that “Farrell hits in a ‘rugby league style’, which involves tackling upright with a rapidly swinging shoulder, in which the arm wraps around late. A video of him practising the technique ahead of the clash with France in the 2021 Six Nations garnered a lot of attention.”

Back in 2021, South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus commented under an article in the Irish Examiner in which Gatland asks for ‘clarity’ and ‘consistency’ in refereeing, saying: “While you at it please get clarity on this also !! penalty or play on ? We have to be 100% sure and aligned! Can’t agree more”, attaching two videos of Owen Farrell tackles.

You may remember in 2018, Erasmus taking a session – largely for the cameras – where he showed centre Andre Esterhuizen the best way to hit high. This was after the Test in 2018 when Farrell hit the Springbok with a highly-criticised shot, but escaped any sanction.

In the 2015 Premiership final he hit Anthony Watson with a shot that garnered a penalty – then Bath coach Mike Ford said the challenge warranted a red card.

At the 2015 Rugby world Cup, Farrell was yellow carded for a late and high hit on Matt Giteau, of Australia.

In 2016, Farrell saw a yellow and a two-game ban for a high shot on Dan Robson.

And in the 2019-20 Premiership season, Farrell received a five-game ban for a wild hit on Charlie Atkinson, after which the player suffered a brain injury.

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