England and Saracens captain Owen Farrell has been handed a five-match ban after he was sent off against Wasps at the weekend.
The 28-year-old fly-half was sent off on 61 minutes by referee Christophe Ridley for his challenge on Wasps replacement Charlie Atkinson.
The full-back will not train for at least a fortnight, according to club coach Lee Blackett, and the way the fixtures fall that means the campaign could be over for him.
Independent panel chair Mike Hamlin said: “It was accepted by the RFU, the player and the Panel that the offending was reckless and not intentional. This was a totally unacceptable contact with the neck/head of Charlie Atkinson as a result of a reckless tackle which had the consequences of him being knocked unconscious and sustaining a concussion. This resulted in the Panel concluding that this was a top end offence with an entry point of 10 matches. 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. 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 5th October.”
Owen Farrell ban incident:
After the game, he charged with making a dangerous tackle, contrary to World Rugby Law 9.13, and appeared this evening in front of an independent panel.
He stood at the side of the pitch at Allianz Park until Atkinson was able to walk off, before offering his hand in apology. Atkinson had only been on the field for eight minutes as a replacement for Rob Miller.
Former Wales fly-half and great Jonathan Davies took to social media to say ‘Yes, bad one, but it happens so don’t hang him out to dry. He’ll take the punishment and learn from it. That edge he has in him is what makes him special. He knows he has to control.’
Davies was immediately backed by former England captain Will Carling, who tweeted ‘Very well said Jiffy. Anyone who knows him understands he is a tough competitor but a great guy. He is not the rubbish people on here make him out to be. Jealousy of his position and ability is sad to see.’
Sir Clive Woodward, England’s World Cup winning coach, was among those criticising Farrell at the weekend.
“Farrell has to get these tackles out of his system. Not only can they cost his side dear but as the England captain he has to be better,” he said.
“The game is no longer willing to tolerate such dangerous tackles, as the England captain is about to discover.”
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Owen Farrell facts
1. He started off in Rugby League
His education began in rugby league – he joined Wigan St Patricks at the age of eight.
2. School days
It’s well known that the Saracens star went to school with England teammate George Ford, however, it’s less well known that he went onto study Business at Hertfordshire University.
Farrell celebrates every point he scores by linking his index fingers together to make a ‘JJ’ sign, the Joining Jack salute, Joining Jack being a charity dedicated to the needs of sufferers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.[ Farrell is also a patron for Duchenne muscular dystrophy charity Duchenne UK.