Former Professional Referee Has His Say On That Owen Farrell Tackle


Former professional referee Rob Debney says Owen Farrell’s controversial tackle on André Esterhuizen was illegal and should have resulted in a penalty to South Africa.

Writing for The Times, Debney also says every single referee he has spoken to regarding the hit – agrees Farrell should have been penalised.

“Law 9.16 states: “A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without attempting to grasp that player.” Debney writes.

“Angus Gardner, the referee, accepted that Farrell had made enough of an effort to wrap his left arm in the tackle. I disagree.”

“Farrell led with his right shoulder and his left arm belatedly came up. As he bounced off Esterhuizen, Farrell tried to dislodge the ball; he was not trying to wrap his arm. It was the final play of the game and Gardner may have been looking for any reason not to give a penalty that, had South Africa kicked it, would have won them the game.”

Debney also highlights a tackle on England’s George Kruis from RG Snyman earlier in the game that went unpunished. He says Gardner incorrectly used the fact that Kruis ‘dipped’ into the tackle as a mitigating factor, suggesting the referee on more than one occasion did not follow World Rugby protocols.

He goes on to say something must be done to clear up the tackle area ahead of the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup before they end up being “tarnished.”

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