Rugby World Cup: England captain Owen Farrell faces ban after appeal over red card decision

England captain Owen Farrell's Rugby World Cup future hangs in the balance once more, with World Rugby saying it will appeal a Six Nations Rugby independent judicial committee decision to overturn his red card against Wales.

Farrell, who has had several suspensions related to tackle technique in his career, was expected to receive a minimum four-game suspension for the act of foul play, but was surprisingly let off the hook by the committee, which ruled that the offence warranted a yellow card only.

Owen Farrell.
Owen Farrell. Photo credit: Getty Images

Farrell was sent off - a yellow card upgraded to red, via the new review system - after smashing his shoulder into the face of Wales forward Taine Basham in the sort of no-arms tackle that got him a four-game ban this season playing for Saracens.

The judicial committee decision caused uproar on social media, with ex-players and player welfare advocates agreeing it set a bad example at a time when the long-term effects of head injuries is in the spotlight.

"World Rugby has today confirmed to the Rugby Football Union and Six Nations Rugby that it will exercise its right to appeal in regard to the Owen Farrell disciplinary decision, following a careful review of the independent Judicial Committee's full written decision received on 16 August," World Rugby said.

"Having considered the full written decision, World Rugby considers an appeal to be warranted. In line with provisions set out under Regulation 17, an independent Appeal Committee will be appointed to determine the matter at the earliest possible opportunity."

The statement added that while World Rugby "fully supports the important role that an independent disciplinary process plays in upholding the integrity and values of the sport", it clearly believes the judgement sends the wrong message.

"Player welfare is the sport's No.1 priority and the Head Contact Process is central to that mission at the elite level of the sport," it continued.

Any suspension Farrell receives could see him miss some of England's pool matches at the Rugby World Cup. They have two remaining warm-ups against Ireland and Fiji, with their first two World Cup games against Argentina and Japan crucial for coach Steve Borthwick's side.

England also have Samoa and Chile in their group.