The Offload: Was Farrell’s tackle fair, unfair or does anyone know?

Schmidt’s Larmour and Beirne headache; World Rugby’s gender fail on selection panel

England’s Owen Farrell makes a challenge on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen during the international Test match at Twickenham. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

England’s Owen Farrell makes a challenge on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen during the international Test match at Twickenham. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

Was Farrell’s wrap enough wrap?

Angus Gardner’s decision not to penalise Owen Farrell’s match winning tackle on Andre Esterhuizen is being pounded on social media.

One highly respected Irish journalist labelled it “pathetic.” South African referee Jonathan Kaplan deemed the arm wrap an “afterthought”.

This is true; rugby is built upon such moments of physical dominance.

For better or worse, Farrell will not face any formal sanction.

Memory bank technique demands irresponsible bravery as cowardice guarantees losing the collision, with concussion promised by tackling lower in such moments.

Attempts at saving rugby have players facing this split second Catch 22. Faced with Esterhuizen’s stampeding run, Farrell’s right shoulder torpedoed into the South African’s chest.

Growing up in the shadow of a Rugby League king, England’s “spiritual leader” – according to Eddie Jones – clearly loves the collision, fist pumping the Twickenham sky when Gardner decreed on Saturday: “I believe there is enough of a wrap on the far side for it to be a fair tackle.”

Farrell and England celebrate victory after the tackle was deemed to be fair. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Farrell and England celebrate victory after the tackle was deemed to be fair. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Farrell’s left arm touched the South African, even glancing the ball under his right arm, but physics denied him a solid grip.

Give Andy Farrell’s son the sight of Esterhuizen in minute 80 of a two-point test match and every time he will seeks to obliterate. Technique is ingrained but the nipple line was his target.

What seems certain after re-watching Esterhuizen’s whiplash and Farrell’s stunned collapse to the floor is both men should be entered into the Head Injury Assessment return to play protocols.

The margin of Gardner calling a Springbok penalty and Farrell yellow card is paper thin. His decision was not pathetic. It was honesty under suffocating pressure.

Schmidt’s Larmour and Beirne headache

Ireland’s starting XVs for the four November Tests were decided well in advance. There is deep method to this era of unrecognisable success. Only injury and occasional bouts of magic will alter the mind of Joe Schmidt.

Maybe. Strip selection criteria down to form, forget the hierarchy of Carton House or the Grand Slam parade last March, even park the series victory in Australia and who must start against Argentina?

That would be Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Beirne. The hockey prodigy has been nominated for World Rugby’s young player of the year while Beirne continually looks the best forward in Europe. Now, where to play them? Dropping Rob Kearney, Keith Earls or Jacob Stockdale seems unlikely so Larmour is number 23 despite an O’Driscoll-esque hat-trick in the 21 year old’s first start for Ireland.

Joe Schmidt has a lot to think about after the performances of Tadhg Beirne and Jordan Larmour. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Joe Schmidt has a lot to think about after the performances of Tadhg Beirne and Jordan Larmour. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Astonishing performance but Schmidt noted positional flaws. Beirne has been calling the Munster lineout this season but it requires a big leap by Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby to dislodge Devin Toner. Discarded a few seasons back, as Iain Henderson partnered with Donnacha Ryan, Toner responded with towering consistency. Or keep them all and James Ryan by playing Beirne at blindside but that means dropping Peter O’Mahony. Madness!

Injury inevitably solves this problem but Beirne and Larmour were the best players wearing green jerseys in Soldier Field. Ridiculously, these heady times suggest that might not be enough for them to be retained. Both look unstoppable.

Gender fail

After admirable attempts by World Rugby to make genuine strides towards gender equality they go and do this. Sloppiness in naming seven men – Fabien Galthié, George Gregan, Richie McCaw, Brian O’Driscoll, Agustín Pichot, John Smit and Clive Woodward – and former England flanker Maggie Alphonsi on the judging panel to select the women’s player of the year was compounded by the shortlist they decided upon.

“I think [New Zealand’s] Fiao’o Faamausili is a wonderful player but I’m sure she’d agree, it’s odd to be named on a shortlist for the World Player of the Year on the back of just two (fairly straightforward) wins,” said Ali Donnelly of scrumqueens.com. “It is blatantly implausible that any of the seven [men] have either seen a single women’s game in full over the past year, or could intelligibly discuss the merits of the best women’s players on the circuit without someone else’s notes or a highlights reel. There is not even a pretence of gender balance on the panel.”

Maybe WR couldn’t find any women. Maybe they couldn’t care less. Either way we can’t wait to hear these male legends explain their research when deciding the winner.

Word of Mouth

“Sometimes you can take what you want from it. It’s hard to wrap your arms around when you’re both hitting each other at that much force, but I tried to.” – Owen Farrell

By the numbers

245: Jordan Larmour’s personal NFL trial for the Chicago Bears falls just short of Walter Peyton’s 249 metre running record at Soldier Field.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.