The decision to reduce Owen Farrell’s ban from ten weeks to five based on various testimonials has not gone down very well. The Saracens fly-half was handed the ban on Tuesday evening by an independent panel for his red card offence in Saturday’s contest with Wasps.
The panel deemed the high tackle on Charlie Atkinson “reckless and not intentional”, which led to the ban.
However, independent panel chair Mike Hamlin said: “Testimonials provided by Mark McCall, Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality,” which resulted in the ban being reduced to five meaningful matches.
This has caused quite a stir on social media, with many disgruntled people feeling his charity work is irrelevant when it comes to dangerous play on a rugby field. In a collision that left Atkinson unconscious, which many have branded as potentially “career ending”, a mass of people feel any prior charity work should have no bearing on the decision.
The input of McCall and Jones, Farrell’s Saracens and England head coaches respectively, has also been questioned as it is in both of their interests to have the ban reduced as much as possible.
While a five-week ban has clearly displeased some, there is a sense that any ban length was going to be controversial. It does not take much trawling through Twitter to see that many people were gunning for far longer bans than were perhaps unnecessary and wildly outside World Rugby’s sanctions for foul play.
But a ten week ban would not have caused as much of an outcry, as it is largely the 50 percent reduction that has incensed some, particularly when looking at the testimonials.
Farrell will be able to return from the 5th October, meaning he misses Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster this month.
What have other people’s testaments and charities got to do with a decision based on what was a serious, potentially career ending, maybe worse, tackle? It was pure filth, but do some charity work and it’s ok? Nowt against Farrell but we are clearing the game up or we aren’t!
— Alex Campbell (@Alexbcampbell2) September 9, 2020
Speechless that the fact Farrell does alot of charity work has reduced punishment for (and trying to) decapitate an opponent.
Blazer boys strike again
— Andy Thomas (@andy_thomas89) September 9, 2020