England captain Owen Farrell has added his voice to calls for a more common-sense approach to punishing high tackles after four yellow cards were dished out in the Premiership semi-final between Saracens and Harlequins.
In the two Premiership semi-finals on Saturday, a total of six yellow cards were shown to players for dangerous tackles. Farrell was on the receiving end of one of those tackles from Jack Walker, for which the Harlequins hooker was sent to the sin bin.
Farrell’s own tackle technique has been heavily scrutinised throughout his career, coming under fire for a number of dangerous tackles – such as the one on Andre Esterhuizen in a Test between the Springboks and England in 2018 and a poor attempt on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson in September 2020.
Speaking after Saturday’s semi-final win over Harlequins, Farrell tried to provide context around the demands of players to toe the line between keeping defence coaches happy and staying within the letter of the law.
“If you are constantly being passive you probably won’t get picked next week. It’s a very fine line and I don’t think people quite understand when it gets slowed down on TV how quick those decisions are,” Farrell told the Telegraph.
“You could slow loads of things down and find bits. Look, again all we can do is what we can control. A few of those tackles are just trying to be dominant, there is no malice in it and the referee has seen it as a yellow card and that’s it, we get on with it.
“You don’t want people in the bin. As with theirs [Harlequins], a lot of them nothing’s actually too high, nothing’s malicious, there’s dip in it and there’s obviously head contact. I think there’s a lot more of it happening now in rugby. There’s times you can slow loads of contact down and find something. When there’s a bigger collision people look at it more.
“Hopefully it goes in the right direction, the game is safe, and there’s some common sense to it, too. I’m glad everyone is doing what they can to make the game go in the right direction in terms of safety and we will do what we can to control that.”
Saracens will face the unbeaten Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final on Saturday.
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