"Will get better" - Wayne Barnes defends England captain Owen Farrell and backs bunker system - Ruck

“Will get better” – Wayne Barnes defends England captain Owen Farrell and backs bunker system

After England’s narrow defeat to the Springboks, Captain Owen Farrell faced criticism for his interactions with officials during the match.

Several pundits went as far as to suggest that his behavior might have cost England a spot in the final. Ben Kay commented during the live coverage, stating that Farrell is not ‘helping his team here at all.’ This came after Farrell questioned a penalty decision, prompting referee Ben O’Keeffe to move it 10 meters forward, placing it within scoring distance.

This penalty allowed the Springboks to secure their first points of the match, closing the gap after falling 6-0 behind early on.

On social media, some fans argued that Farrell should no longer be England’s captain, contending that his conduct with referees has made the team ‘impossible to love,’ overshadowing his on-field performances.

Former referee Barnes disagrees. “Owen has led that team so well over the last five to six years,” he said.

“He is the eyes and ears of that team on the training field and during the match.

“We have worked together and he has worked with other people around that interaction with the referee. Owen isn’t someone who cost England that game. What cost England that game was Pollard had his kicking boots on.”

The introduction of the bunker system, aimed at providing additional time for decisions on potential red cards, faced criticism in certain circles. Barnes acknowledges that although there is room for improvement, he believes it has the potential to enhance the sport of rugby.

“I think it is at the early stages, we need to trial it more,” said Barnes.

“The bunker system needs more time to evolve, but it is the right way to improve the game.”

He mentioned that the VAR system in football is currently undergoing a phase comparable to the bunker system in rugby, requiring adjustments and enhancements. However, he expresses confidence that it will eventually prove effective.

“Rugby has been using TMO for close to 20 years now and it has had different iterations,” Barnes said. “That has evolved and we’ve got better at that.

“We’ve learnt from other sports. Football is only two years into that journey. We will see that evolution of VAR and it will get better and better. [Chief refereeing officer] Howard Webb is constantly looking at ways of improving it and we will see that gradual improvement.”

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Retiring Wayne Barnes ranks the worst rugby players to referee

#5. Joe Marler (England)

Joe Marler of England Rugby during the Six Nations Championship match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 26th 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

BARNES SAID: ” “He was always a funny one on the field in nice way. You’d be trying to tell him something serious and he’d just want to have a laugh and a joke.

“But he does bring a smile to your face. That is what is unique about our sport, the interaction between players and refs and refs and coaches. It does show our sport off in a good light.”

Joe Marler facts: 

  1. Marler started his career at Haywards Heath RFC in Sussex where he played in the same side as fellow England international Billy Twelvetrees
  2. After joining the Quins academy in 2008, the prop spent some time on loan to Esher and Worthing
  3. He’s been nicknamed Croissant. In his own words, it’s because: “The boys think I have a nose that looks like a French pastry.”
  4. Marler was captain for England at U18s level and represented the U20 squad throughout the Junior World Championship in summer 2009
  5. He is also one of the hosts of The Joe Marler Show podcast with Tom Fordyce


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