England captain Owen Farrell has missed the start of the World Cup after being given a four-match ban by the appeals committee for a dangerous tackle against Wales; Billy Vunipola received a three-game ban, which will be reduced to two if he attends tackle school.
9:33 AM UK Wednesday 23 August 2023
Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell will miss England’s Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina after receiving bans following red cards in friendlies.
Vunipola was sent off against Ireland last weekend and received a three-match ban, but it will be reduced to two if he agrees to attend a tackling school.
That would mean Vunipola, the only No.8 coach Steve Borthwick has picked in his squad, will miss England’s first group game against the Pumas.
Captain Farrell will miss the first two games of the World Cup after an independent disciplinary hearing on Tuesday upheld his red card and handed him a four-match ban, including Group D matches against Argentina and Japan.
World Rugby has appealed the disciplinary committee’s decision to reduce Farrell’s red card for a high tackle against Wales at Twickenham on August 12 to a yellow.
Farrell plowed into Taine Basham’s head causing the Wales defender to fail the HIA.
An initial disciplinary hearing cleared Farrell and found mitigation for Basham’s late change of pace, but there was an outcry after the ban was not handed down and World Rugby appealed.
|September 9 (RWC)||vs||Argentina|
|September 17 (RWC)||vs||Japan|
|September 23 (RWC)||vs||Chile|
|October 7 (RWC)||vs||Samoa|
The appeals panel found that the original hearing did not take into account Farrell’s failure to wrap up when attempting a tackle, which was a key part of the analysis of the bunker control system when going from yellow to red.
“The Appeal Panel unanimously decided that at the original hearing the Disciplinary Panel should have considered the player’s attempt to tackle an opponent. This point was not part of the original decision,” Six Nations Rugby said in a statement.
“As this element was not part of the original decision, the Appeals Committee decided that it was in the interests of justice to re-hear the case only on this key point, which involved hearing the player.”
The decision on Farrell ends a saga that has troubled England’s World Cup preparations and manager Borthwick’s plans.
What’s next for England?
England host Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday 26 August in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up before heading to France. On Saturday, September 9, they will face Argentina in Marseille in the opening game of the World Cup.
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