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Owen Farrell ruled out of Ireland match amid red card controversy and reversal

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England captain Owen Farrell was left out of the squad to play Ireland in a World Cup warm-up match by coach Steve Borthwick as World Rugby said they would appeal the decision to overturn his red card against Wales.

World Rugby’s announcement earlier Thursday cast a shadow over flyhalf Farrell’s involvement at the upcoming World Cup in France, which starts next month.

Farrell was sent off during England’s 19-17 warm-up win at Twickenham last weekend when the recently introduced ‘bunker’ review system upgraded an initial yellow card to red after he made contact with a shoulder-led tackle to the head of Taine Basham.

The 31-year-old Farrell was facing a six-week ban that could have ruled him out of the start of the World Cup.

But an all-Australian disciplinary panel caused uproar on Tuesday by concluding the foul play review officer “was wrong, on the balance of probabilities”, to upgrade the yellow card to a red.

It ruled Farrell was free to play again immediately.

The verdict sparked a furore. England’s 2003 World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward said it had made rugby union a “complete and utter laughing stock”.

World Rugby said Thursday they thought an appeal “warranted”.

England boss Borthwick had intended to select Farrell to face a top-ranked Ireland side coached by the player’s father, Andy Farrell. Instead England will start George Ford at flyhalf, with Marcus Smith on the bench.

“In my original planning for the Summer Nations Series and as part of our Rugby World Cup preparation, Owen Farrell was due to be selected to play in this Saturday’s Test match in Dublin,” said Borthwick.

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“However, in light of the fact that so much of Owen’s training and match preparation time this week has been significantly affected and interrupted by the disciplinary process, I have not selected him in the matchday 23.

“Owen will travel to Ireland with our full support.”

Borthwick, himself a former England captain, added: “Owen understands the situation, but is of course disappointed, as I am, that he is missing such a special game that he would otherwise have played in.”


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