Owen Farrell: ‘Common sense’ required in judging high tackles after four yellow cards in Premiership play-off

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Owen Farrell has lifted the lid on the tightrope rugby players walk as they look to defend with the required intensity while also keeping the game safe – and encouraged watchers of the game not to judge tacklers too harshly.

On Saturday, Farrell’s Saracens overcame Harlequins in a feisty Premiership play-off that saw four yellow cards for high tackles.

Three of them were for Saracens, but Farrell – who has found trouble for no-arm tackles in the past – was the victim of a high hit from Quins hooker Jack Walker in the first half.

Asked if his team needed to tidy up their tackling ahead of Saturday’s final against Leicester at Twickenham, Farrell said: “You don’t want people in the bin.

“As with [Walker’s tackle], a lot of them, nothing’s actually too high, nothing’s malicious, there’s dip in it and there’s obviously head contact. I think there’s a lot more of it happening now in rugby.

“There’s times you can slow loads of contact down and find something. When there’s a bigger collision people look at it more. Hopefully it goes in the right direction, the game is safe, and there’s some common sense to it too.”

Farrell said there is a tricky balance for players.

“We know what we can and can’t do, but you still have to have enough intent to go forward in your defence,” he said. “If you are constantly being passive you probably won’t get picked next week.

“It’s a very fine line and I don’t think people quite understand when it gets slowed down on TV how quick those decisions are.

“You could slow loads of things down and find bits. Look, again all we can do is what we can control. A few of them tackles are just trying to be dominant, there is no malice in it and the referee has seen it as a yellow card and that’s it, we get on with it.

“I’m glad everyone is doing what they can to make the game go in the right direction in terms of safety and we will do what we can to control that.”

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