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Owen Farrell has been cleared. James Crombie/INPHO
decision

England captain Farrell avoids ban and is cleared for Rugby World Cup duty

The out-half was sent off for a high tackle against Wales.

ENGLAND CAPTAIN OWEN Farrell has been cleared to play at the World Cup after having his red card against Wales overturned.

Following an off-pitch review of his high tackle on Wales back row Taine Basham, Farrell was sent off in last weekend’s World Cup warm-up clash.

Given that he had previously been suspended three times for high tackles, it was expected that Farrell would be banned at a disciplinary hearing today but the independent committee has confirmed a shock decision to overturn his red card.

Farrell is free to play immediately, meaning he could face Ireland this weekend in Dublin.

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At today’s independent hearing, Farrell accepted that he had committed foul play but denied that it was worthy of a red card.

The independent committee – made up of Australian trio Adam Casselden, David Croft, and former Munster player John Langford – were of the same opinion.

The committee ruled that the Foul Play Review Officer, who had upgraded Farrell’s yellow card to red during the game, “was wrong, on the balance of probabilities”.

The committee stated that mitigation should have been applied due to the contact England hooker Jamie George made with Basham before Farrell’s tackle.

“A late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier,” according to the committee.

As such, they felt “this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red card threshold.”

The committee added that “no criticism is made of the Foul Play Review Officer nor, would any be warranted,” pointing out that they had the “luxury of time” to consider the incident at length in private, whereas the Foul Play Review Officer had “a matter of minutes” to assess it.

The statement about the disciplinary decision, issued via the Six Nations, reads:

“The independent Judicial Committee consisting of Adam Casselden SC – Chair, John Langford and David Croft (all from Australia) heard the case, considering all the available evidence and submissions from the player and his representative.

“The player acknowledged that whilst he had committed an act of foul play, he denied that the act was worthy of a red card.  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 Committee determined, when applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, that mitigation should be applied to the high degree of danger found by the Foul Play Review Officer.  The Committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier.  In the Committee’s opinion, this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red car threshold.

“The Committee believe it is important to record, that no criticism is made of the Foul Play Review Officer nor, would any be warranted.  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.  The Committee believe this is in contrast to the Foul Play Review Officer, who was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes without the benefit of all the additional material including hearing from the player and his legal representative.

“On that basis, the Committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again immediately.”

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