STATEMENT: Nigel Owens issues defence of England captain Owen Farrell - Ruck

STATEMENT: Nigel Owens issues defence of England captain Owen Farrell

Amidst the ongoing debate concerning England captain Owen Farrell, distinguished former referee Nigel Owens has urged fans to refrain from engaging in ‘personal attacks’ directed at the flyhalf.

“Owen Farrell is a great player who I have a huge amount of respect for,” the Welshman told Wales Online.

“But he has a history of making this kind of tackle, he’s been punished before and perhaps got away with a couple too.

“The referee and everybody at home watching the game would have been looking at that incident and going through their checklist.

e head? Yes, we do. Do we have a high degree of danger? Yes, we certainly do. Do we have mitigation? In my view, no we don’t.

“I don’t think there was any late change from Basham which Farrell could not adjust to, he was the only player contributing to the action of the tackle.

“The key thing about mitigation here is that Farrell’s actions were always illegal. No matter what happened, he was always leading with the shoulder and not making an attempt to wrap for a legal tackle – so mitigation does not and should not play a part in the decision.

“For me, it’s a red card and whatever the judicial outcome may be, it still has to be a red card.

“We must stay strong and deal with acts of foul play. This is foul play, it’s an illegal charge, it’s not an accident. He’s always leading with the shoulder, he’s made contact with the head and, sorry, he’s got to take the consequences.

“The important message here to everybody involved in the game is, despite whatever reasons that the judicial officers had for their decision, this was a red card and should continue to be a red card for the good of player safety and the future of the game as well.

“Quite simply, if we don’t deal with actions like this as a red card offence, then the game is going to be in big trouble moving forward.”


He wrote: “With respect a lot of you need to stop letting your emotions take over. Do not look at the individual who by the way is one of the best on and off the field. Just deal with the facts of the tackle,not who made it. That’s what we all do as officials now please stop being personal.”

World Rugby confirm five new laws for 2023 Rugby World Cup

The key changes are summarised in bullet points below: 

  • The referee will put a stopwatch shot clock on kickers who will have 90 seconds to kick a conversion from the time a try is awarded, and 60 seconds for penalties, from the time the referee signals a shot at goal. 
  • Match officials will expect lineouts and scrums to be formed within 30 seconds of the respective marks being set, and the ball to be used within 5 seconds of a ruck being formed. 
Scrum down for Kyle Sinckler of England Rugby during the Six Nations Championship match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 13 2021. – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK