Banned Farrell to miss European Champions Cup quarterfinal

The 18-year-old Charlie Atkinson was knocked out and will not train for at last two weeks because of concussion protocols.

Saracens' Owen Farrell during a traing session. Picture: @Saracens/Twitter

SOUTHAMPTON - England captain Owen Farrell will miss title-holders Saracens' European Champions Cup quarterfinal against Leinster later this month after he received a five-match ban on Tuesday for a dangerous tackle last weekend.

Farrell was sent off for the first time in his career when, playing for Saracens against Wasps on in the English Premiership on Saturday, he was dismissed on the hour mark for a head-high challenge on teenage replacement back Charlie Atkinson on Saturday.

At that stage the scores at Saracens' Allianz Park ground in north London were level, but Farrell's red card paved the way for Wasps' 28-18 win.

The 18-year-old Atkinson was knocked out and will not train for at last two weeks because of concussion protocols.

With bans in rugby union applying across all competitions, Farrell is now set to miss Saracens' last-eight clash against Irish province Leinster on 19 September.


But with Farrell free to play again on 5 October, he will be available to lead England in their re-arranged Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on 31 October and the subsequent end of year internationals.

Farrell had accepted the charge and Mike Hamlin, the chairman of an online disciplinary panel, said in a statement: "It was accepted by the RFU, the player and the panel that the offending was reckless and not intentional.

"This was a totally unacceptable contact with the neck/head of Charlie Atkinson as a result of a reckless tackle which had the consequences of him being knocked unconscious and sustaining a concussion.

"This resulted in the panel concluding that this was a top end offence with an entry point of ten matches. There were no aggravating features."

However, Hamlin said character references from Saracens boss Mark McCall and England coach Eddie Jones, meant that under RFU regulations they could reduce Farrell's punishment in half from a possible 10-game ban.

"Testimonials provided by Mark McCall, Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality," Hamlin said.

"The panel concluded that applying the off-field mitigating factors, notwithstanding his suspension four-and-a half-years ago, the player (Farrell) was entitled to a reduction from 10 matches to five meaningful matches under RFU regulation 19.11.11. The player is free to play again on 5 October."

Saracens' focus has long been on retaining the Champions Cup given they will be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season for salary cap breaches.

Farrell, 28, expressed his remorse immediately on the field referee Christophe Ridley had little choice but to show the red card on Saturday after the fly-half's arm connected with Atkinson's head.

The tackling technique of Farrell, England's captain in last year's Rugby World Cup final defeat by South Africa in Japan, has long been a controversial topic.

In November 2018 Farrell, while playing for England, escaped any sanction for a shoulder charge on South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen when, with 80 minutes on the clock, a penalty would have given the Springboks a chance to kick for goal in a match they lost 12-11.

Three weeks later, Farrell's no‑arms tackle on Izack Rodda also went unpunished in a victory over Australia, with the Wallabies furious at not being awarded a penalty try.

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