World Rugby revisits Owen Farrell tackle saga
WATCH as World Rugby issues a law application guideline and supporting educational materials to assist with the on-field sanction decision-making process for high tackle and shoulder charges.
As part of their evidence-based approach to reducing the risk of concussion, World Rugby revisited one of the most contentious decisions made by match officials in the past year.
Referee Angus Gardner was widely criticised for not to penalising England flyhalf Owen Farrell for a controversial ‘no-arms’ tackle in the final moments of England’s win over South Africa in November.
England won their first game 12-11, but the match finished in controversial fashion as Farrell’s hit on Andre Esterhuizen went unpunished.
Gardner reviewed the tackle on the big screen at Twickenham and decided no offence had been committed.
If he had penalised Farrell then the Springboks would have had a kick at goal to win the match.
World Rugby’s latest communiqué makes it clear just how badly Gardner got it wrong.
The World Rugby ‘decision-making framework for high tackles’ was developed in partnership with union and competition delegates attending the player welfare symposium in France last month and includes player, coach, match official and medic input.
- Improving the consistency in application of on-field sanctions by distinguishing between dangerous tackles that warrant a penalty, yellow card or red card
- Supporting protection of the head of both players by consistently and frequently sanctioning the tackle behaviour that is known to be the highest risk
With research demonstrating that 76 per cent of concussions occur in the tackle, with 72 per cent of those to the tackler, and that head injury risk is 4.2 times greater when tacklers are upright, the framework is aimed at changing player behaviour in this priority area, via the promotion of safer technique and builds on the January 2017 edict on tougher sanctioning of high tackles
Available as a step-by-step PDF, the framework is also supported by an educational video and illustrates what match officials are looking for when determining a sanction.
The process focuses on the source of direct contact to the head, the degree of force and, for the first time, any mitigating or aggravating factors that may be applied by the match officials. It will be a useful tool for coaches, players, match officials, media and fans. It provides a fresh emphasis and does not retrospectively judge previous decisions.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “As a sport, we continue to put injury-prevention at the heart of all our decisions. The decision-making framework for high tackles reflects that commitment, providing a step-by-step guide for match officials with the express objective of reducing the risk of injury through tougher and more consistent sanctioning of high-risk tackle behaviour.
“We are on an important and bold journey that will take the commitment and support of everyone in the game. I would especially like to thank the competitions and unions for their full collaboration in this important process.”
World Rugby Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added: “This is an important player welfare and educational tool for the global game. The framework will benefit everyone in the game, not just match officials, and will set the standard that is expected from match officials when considering a high tackle or dangerous shoulder charge.”
All World Rugby competitions and international matches will adopt the law application guide with immediate effect along with any competition that is yet to kick-off. Competitions currently in progress can either implement immediately or at the beginning of the next competition season/hosting.