2022 Gloucester Rugby vs Leinster Rugby

Owen Farrell Sparks Outrage With Tackle In Saracens Win

Owen Farrell Sparks Outrage With Tackle In Saracens Win

Owen Farrell has sparked outrage for committing another illicit tackle. It came in Saracen's win over Gloucester on Friday night.

Jan 8, 2023 by RugbyPass
Owen Farrell Sparks Outrage With Tackle In Saracens Win

Owen Farrell has sparked fresh outrage for committing yet another illicit tackle in Saracen's dramatic win over Premiership title challenger Gloucester on Friday night.

The England playmaker is no stranger to a high tackle. He previously has fallen foul of the law and faced lengthy bans for delivering hits that stray above the shoulder region.

A few years ago, when playing for England, he irked opposing fans on two separate occasions for what looked like shoulder charges when facing South Africa and New Zealand during the Autumn Internationals.

Once again, Farrell's tackle technique is making headlines, after he made a shoulder-led hit on Jack Clement. The incident came at a crucial point in Friday's Premiership clash, with the score tied at 16 and victory well within reach for both teams.

Gloucester had the ball, and Clement was lining up their next wave of attack, standing at the base of a ruck and readying himself for a pick and go. He quickly lifted the ball from between his feet and charged forward. 

Farrell stood in his way and, to the fly-half's credit, lowered his body in preparation for the hit. However, Clement dipped into the tackle, as is customary for many ball-carriers, which meant Farrell made shoulder contact with the Gloucester flanker's head.

Following a delay, the TMO caught sight of the incident and instructed on-field referee Karl Dickson to give it a closer look. Confusion ensued, and Dickson asked whether they were still in the same phase of play. If the game had restarted after the incident took place, they couldn't go back to address it.

Incidentally, the TMO wasn't sure, so Farrell went unpunished, but that does not mean he is cleared of all wrongdoing. The Saracens captain still could be cited for the unscrupulous tackle and face a ban.

This could see him miss out on two upcoming Champions Cup fixtures against Lyon, which beat Saracens in the semifinals of the Challenge Cup last season, and Edinburgh.

And with the Six Nations also fast approaching, Steve Borthwick will be worried about the potential unavailability of his talisman, should the ban extend beyond two weeks. 

There is a chance Farrell may be offered to attend a tackle course to shorten his ban, which would ease the strain on the England camp.

But, no matter what happens, it will be Gloucester feeling the most aggrieved. 

Gloucester was within touching distance of an important win, right up until the final minute, when Farrell kicked a successful drop-goal to seal victory and break the hearts of the Cherry and Whites.

It had been far from a Farrell performance until then. He had missed four of his six attempts at goal but, as is the case with most top-level athletes, he showed his steel when his team needed him most.

However, had he seen red minutes earlier, the eventual outcome may have been drastically different.

As it stands, though, Saracens extended its lead at the top of the Premiership table to 14 points on Friday, while Gloucester succumbed to only its second league defeat at Kingsholm since May 2022.

Speaking after the match, Gloucester coach George Skivington refused to outright condemn the decision to keep Farrell on, but indicated a level of parity was not met by the match officials.

"Do you know what, I'm not allowed to comment on things like that," Skivington said. "But I do know we got a yellow card for something much lower-level than that. Frustrating is probably the word.

"Sometimes, it seems you don't get the rub of the green, and I feel like tonight, in a few areas, we didn't get the rub of the green.

"I thought the boys were outstanding, I thought they managed the game really well.

"We put a lot of pressure on and probably got a little bit confused in the 22 in their area a couple of times, and that's probably the difference in winning that game by a score and not."

Gloucester will return to Kingsholm next week for a tricky Champions Cup clash against URC leaders Leinster. 

The English side was blitzed 57-0 in the reverse fixture in mid-December and will be hoping for a change in fortunes this time around, before they head to France to face Bordeaux Begles.

Written by Stefan Frost