Support our Nation today - please donate here

Nigel Owens adamant Owen Farrell’s tackle against Wales was red card

18 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Nigel Owen. Picture by Florian Christoph (CC BY 2.0).

Former referee Nigel Owens insists rugby is in “big trouble” if Owen Farrell’s dangerous tackle against Wales is not viewed as a sending off offence.

Farrell faces an independent disciplinary panel early next week after World Rugby appealed against the decision to downgrade his red card for a high shoulder-led challenge on Taine Basham to yellow.

England’s captain has received impassioned support from his head coach Steve Borthwick and Ireland boss Andy Farrell, his father, amid an outcry over the original hearing’s failure to issue a ban.

Owens, who oversaw 100 Tests from 2003 to 2020, believes Farrell should be punished for the tackle while warning the game of the repercussions if he is cleared once again.


“Owen Farrell is a great player who I have a huge amount of respect for,” he 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.

“Do we have foul play? Yes, we do. Do we have contact with the 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.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago

If anyone with an ounce of common sense watched the video of Owen Farrell lining up Taine Basham, legs in a crouched position, before he sprang up and shoulder charged him in the neck & head would not defend the indefensible like the RFU, Shaun Edwards and others are. Don’t forget he has past form and has been banned numerous times previously for foulplay. I suggest those check out this YouTube link below showing this thug in action. Owen Farrell: And I know Andy Farrell, father of Owen, will defend his son. But as a so-called responsible parent who… Read more »

10 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I’m just confused as to how this “panel” thought that their ruling would wash with the international community. Farcical. This isn’t partisan Welshmen crying foul against an Englishman. This has far-reaching consequences for the health of all players of every nation. If the governing body won’t look after you, who can? I don’t want Farrell to be made an example of and get an audacious ban. I want him to be treated like any other player who attacks another with the intent to cause injury through dirty play. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

10 months ago

That hit was so blatant and obviously foul play, Mr Andy Farrell should be grateful his son has not been charged by the police. No comment would have been the wise option here I think.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.