Owen Farrell’s tackle technique has been in the spotlight again after footage was released of England’s training camp this week. The England captain was seen hitting tackle bags in a video and his tackle height has been mentioned.
Over the past three years, Farrell has been embroiled in several controversial moments with regards to the use of his arms in tackles and his tackle height. This culminated in a red card last September after nigh on decapitating Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson.
That was a watershed moment for him, and he has since stayed on the right side of the law with his defence, but this snippet has done him no favours. “Shocking tackle technique,” is one description online, while plenty have suggested he lowers his tackle height.
England prepare for France in the #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/iaX0oMJI9O
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 11, 2021
Of course, two hits on tackle bags are not a fair reflection of how he has trained the entire week either, nor how he will play against France this Saturday.
The reality is, Farrell is not going to transform into a Dan Lydiate-esque chop tackler suddenly. His game is built upon his dominant defence and he will still seek to hit the ball carrier’s torso, but that is perhaps why this video has caused concern.
Any contact to the head is going to leave the defender staring down the barrel of a red card and there are few mitigating factors to avoid that fate.
The tackles in this video would indeed be legal, but only a slight change in the ball carrier’s height or another variable could change the legality of the challenge completely.
Red cards have already been decisive in this year’s Guinness Six Nations (albeit for head contact at the ruck) and tacklers should know by now the risk they run if they do not lower their body height in contact.
England’s discipline has been one of the main areas of concern so far in their campaign, and it is a priority for Eddie Jones’ side to lower their penalty count if they hope to overcome France at Twickenham this weekend.
Wow!!!!! Farrell has learnt how to tackle and wrap his arms – well in practice sessions at least
— Mark the BurnageScarlet (@Burnagerugby4s) March 11, 2021
Is there any wonder he has so many high tackles. Won’t get away with his previous indiscretions and narrative, “awkward” , “mis timed” or “ it wasn’t intentional sir” won’t wash this season.
— Tim Gleeson (@gleesontim) March 11, 2021
I can’t believe they actually released this. Shocking tackle technique; high risk of going head to head there.
— Will Richards (@WillR1807) March 11, 2021
Is this a joke response to that South Africa video? Why is he practicing head shots!?!
— CB2020 (@CB69327590) March 11, 2021
ENGLAND TEAM TO FACE FRANCE:
15. Max Malins; 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Owen Farrell (capt), 11. Jonny May; 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Kyle Sinckler; 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Charlie Ewels; 6. Mark Wilson 7. Tom Curry, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Ellis Genge, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Jonny Hill, 20. Ben Earl, 21. Dan Robson, 22. Dan Lawrence 23. Elliot Daly.
A slightly longer video of England at training: