Testimonials provided by Saracens boss Mark McCall, England coach Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity factored into Owen Farrell’s ban being reduced from 10 to five matches.
After a lengthy disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night, it was confirmed around midnight that Farrell had received just a five-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in this past Saturday’s clash between Saracens and Wasps.
Farrell was shown a red card by referee Christophe Ridley for the horrible-looking hit on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson, who is currently recovering from the head knock.
Although the disciplinary panel concluded that this was a top-end offence with an entry point of 10 matches, it was concluded there were no aggravating features.
‘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,’ a statement read.
‘The panel concluded that applying the off-field mitigating factors, notwithstanding his suspension four-and-a-half years ago, the player was entitled to a reduction from 10 matches to five meaningful matches under RFU regulation 19.11.11. The player is free to play again on 5 October.’
It means Farrell will miss Saracens’ Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster, but the irony is that he will return to action around the same time as Atkinson, who is unable to train at the moment as he recovers from a concussion.
It has again called into question the legitimacy and decision-making processes of these disciplinary panels.
Although Farrell has become renowned for repeated offences with such tackles, he has often gone unpunished on the field, which has meant these misdemeanours couldn’t be factored into Tuesday’s decision-making.
However, as highlighted by SA Rugby magazine contributor and former Springbok Stefan Terblanche, who served as a member of the judicial committee at the 2019 World Cup, this latest offence had all the hallmarks of receiving a much-lengthier ban.
Ticks all the boxes for longer though. Previous foul play incidents and history will come into play as well. https://t.co/NFJfrDXa4o
— Stefan Terblanche (@StefanT15) September 5, 2020