Owen Farrell banned from England’s first two Rugby World Cup matches

Owen Farrell banned from England’s first two Rugby World Cup matches

Owen Farrell will miss England’s first two World Cup matches after the decision to rescind his red card was overturned on Tuesday night, dealing a hammer blow to his side’s faltering campaign.

The England captain has been banned for four matches, meaning he will sit out the key fixtures against Argentina and Japan – as well as Saturday’s warm-up match against Fiji. Crucially, the panel determined the suspension should be backdated to include last week’s defeat by Ireland, even though Farrell could have appeared in Dublin.

Farrell was initially given a six-match ban, reduced to four due to his “acceptance of foul play, clear demonstration of remorse and his good character”.

Last week Farrell’s red card was initially rescinded at his first hearing, provoking a fearsome backlash, with the player welfare lobby group Progressive Rugby slamming the decision as “making a mockery” of the sport’s commitment to on-field safety.

World Rugby subsequently appealed against that decision and at Tuesday’s hearing, the disciplinary panel unanimously determined that the sending-off should stand.

Farrell’s absence for what are arguably England’s hardest two pool-stage matches is a devastating outcome of a lengthy saga for Steve Borthwick, whose side have lost four of their last five matches to leave World Cup expectations at an all-time low. Last week Borthwick made clear his feelings at World Rugby’s decision to appeal against the initial verdict, questioning why the governing body was “picking holes” in a matter he felt had reached its conclusion.

His problems may get worse with the he

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