'It makes a mockery that player welfare is the game’s number one priority' - Owen Farrell cleared to play and has red card overturned

Owen Farrell will be eligible for selection for England's latest warm-up game against Ireland this weekend
©David Howlett

England captain Owen Farrell has been cleared to play at the Rugby World Cup after his red card in Saturday's warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham was rescinded.

Farrell's yellow card was upgraded to red by the new 'Bunker' review system after a high tackle on Wales' Taine Basham.

However, a disciplinary panel reviewing the incident said the involvement of England's Jamie George in the tackle forced Basham to change direction before the impact was made by Farrell.

The independent judicial committee said: "After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail and hearing submissions from the player's representative, the committee concluded that the foul play review officer was wrong, on the balance of probabilities, to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card.

"The committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England number two's [George] interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier."

Following his sending off on Saturday, Farrell's World Cup hopes looked to be in trouble with many suggesting he would receive at least a three-match ban, which would have ruled him out of England's remaining warm-up matches against Ireland and Fiji as well as their World Cup opener with Argentina on 9th September.

The fly-half had already received a four-match ban at the beginning of the year following a high tackle in Saracens' Gallagher Premiership clash with Gloucester, but this particular outcome means the England skipper is cleared to play this weekend against Ireland and beyond.

"The committee believes it is important to record that no criticism is made of the foul play review officer nor, would any be warranted," the IJC's statement added.

"Unlike the foul play review officer, the committee had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident and the proper application of the head contact process."

The decision has sparked outrage on social media, in particular from concussion lobby group Progressive Rugby who tweeted:

Many current and former players have also weighed in with their opinion including ex-Scotland international Jason White: 

Even those in the media are struggling to fathom the decision with journalist Peter Jackson comparing previous, recent incidents and bans:

Peter Robinson, the father of Ben, a schoolboy who died in 2011 after suffering concussion while playing a match, also had this to say: