Former Test referees André Watson and Rob Debney say Owen Farrell’s tackle on André Esterhuizen should have been penalised.
In the 84th minute of last Saturday’s Test at Twickenham, Farrell appeared to shoulder charge Esterhuizen as the Boks searched for a match-winning try or penalty. The officials checked for foul play, but referee Angus Gardner ruled there was ‘enough of a wrap’ by Farrell’s arm on the far side to deem it legal and blew the final whistle.
On Sunday, World Rugby confirmed that the England skipper had not been cited as it had not reached the red-card threshold.
In an interview with Netwerk24, Watson, who refereed 28 Tests between 1996 and 2004, said Farrell had used a ‘sharp shoulder’ to upend Esterhuizen and that ‘there’s no doubt that it was dangerous’.
He added: ‘It was not worthy of a red card and it was right that World Rugby did not cite the player, but there’s not much doubt that it should have been a penalty. There was no binding [with the shoulder] or even an attempt to bind.’
Former English referee Rob Debney agreed that the England flyhalf was lucky to get away with it.
‘Farrell’s tackle on André Esterhuizen was illegal and should have been a penalty. Just about every senior referee to whom I have spoken agrees with me,’ Debney wrote in The Times.
‘Angus Gardner, the referee, accepted that Farrell had made enough of an effort to wrap his left arm in the tackle. I disagree.
‘World Rugby says that an upright tackle with force is most dangerous and research shows that the tackler is most at risk. Yet the referee did not punish it. This must be sorted out or it will tarnish the Six Nations and the World Cup.’
Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP Photo