Owen Farrell has been permitted to compete in the Rugby World Cup 2023 after Wales’ red card was reversed.
After a heavy tackle on Taine Basham, Farrell’s yellow card was elevated to red by the new ‘Bunker’ review system.
A disciplinary tribunal evaluating the event, however, acknowledged a change in dynamic in the contact area as a mitigating factor.
The participation of England’s Jamie George in the tackle, according to the panel, led Basham to shift course.
“After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail, and hearing submissions from the player’s representative, the committee concluded that the foul play review officer was wrong, on the balance of probabilities, to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card,” the independent judicial committee (IJC) stated.
“The committee discovered that a late change in dynamics brought about by England number two’s [George] interaction in the contact area caused a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier.”
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It was expected that Farrell would get at least a three-match ban, ruling him out of England’s remaining warm-up games against Ireland and Fiji, as well as their World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9 in Marseille.
The ruling means that the 31-year-old fly-half may continue his preparations for the competition and is available for selection by head coach Steve Borthwick.
The newly implemented ‘bunker’ review procedure for foul play, which is being utilized during the Summer Nations Series, was utilised because on-field referee Nika Amashukeli couldn’t decide if Farrell’s challenge on Basham deserved a straight red card.
Farrell was first handed a yellow card and was sent down the tunnel into the England changing room before being shown a red card and was sent down the tunnel into the England changing room.
The IJC also stated that the judgment of the foul play review officer should not be criticized.
“The committee believes it is important to record that no criticism is leveled at the foul play review officer, nor would such criticism be warranted,” the statement said.
“Unlike the foul play review officer, the committee had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident and the proper application of the head contact process.”
England plays Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, followed by a match against Fiji at Twickenham on August 26.
‘We are overjoyed.’
“Obviously it’s great news for us and we are over the moon as a squad, in terms of having our captain and leader going through the process and cracking on as normal,” George Ford, who was in the running alongside Marcus Smith to deputize at number 10 in Farrell’s absence, told BBC Sport.
“When you’re sitting in the stands or watching on TV, you don’t realize how quickly things happen on the field.” There are several occasions in the game that don’t appear to be happening quickly, but they are, and they are inescapable at times. Of course, we practice tackle height and going lower, but there are times in a game when things happen rapidly.
“This is our first time using the bunker system.” When it comes to this, everything is highly subjective, and when someone makes a choice, they may perceive it differently than other individuals, which is exactly what happened here in terms of the bunker system and the consequence of the punishment.”
When asked about his job now that Farrell has been cleared, Ford replied, “My role doesn’t change in terms of what I’ve tried to do from day one, which is come in and help, support, and lead the team as much as I can.”
“It’s fantastic that we have Owen, our captain, available, and we will all keep working together to make this team as successful as possible.”