Owen Farrell's red card decision 'has made the game a complete and utter laughing stock' - Sir Clive Woodward

Owen Farrell's red-card decision was overturned
Owen Farrell's red-card decision was overturned

Former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward said the decision to overturn Owen Farrell's red card has made rugby "a complete and utter laughing stock".

The England captain was initially yellow carded during the warm-up game against Wales last weekend for a tackle to the head of Taine Basham which was later upgraded into a red card using the newly introduced 'bunker' review system.

Considering Farrell's previous disciplinary record that has seen him miss 11 matches due to suspensions, it was expected that the Saracens fly-half would miss the start of the Rugby World Cup at least but the independent disciplinary committee unexpectedly overturned the red card making him available for the weekend's game against Ireland.

"The mindboggling decision to rescind Owen Farrell's red card is yet another example of rugby shooting itself in the foot. It has made the game a complete and utter laughing stock," he wrote on his column in Daily Mail.

"When I first heard Farrell had been cleared to play with immediate effect, I was lost for words and just totally dumbfounded. My reaction was: 'You have got to be joking?'

"Everyone I've spoken to in the game was expecting the England captain to face a long ban and miss at least the early stages of the World Cup.

"Rugby is in a very strange position if a professional team of referees decides on a red card and then a panel of Australian judges tells them they're wrong.

"Unfortunately, that is exactly the position we're in! It's farcical and a massive own goal for the sport on so many levels. I'm really not sure where rugby goes from here."

England are grouped in Pool D alongside Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile.