Angus Gardner Admits He Got Owen Farrell Call Wrong

rugby player scores a try

Australian referee Angus Gardner has admitted he was wrong not to award a penalty to South Africa at the end of their Test with England earlier this month.

England claimed a narrow 12-11 victory over the Springboks in the Test at Twickenham on November 3 but the game ended in controversial fashion when Gardner consulted the television match official, Olly Hodges, to check whether England fly-half Owen Farrell had committed an illegal hit on Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen.

Despite World Rugby's current clampdown on dangerous play, Gardner opted not to penalise Farrell although television replays showed that the player was leading with his shoulder.

But Gardner, who was named Referee of the Year at the World Rugby Awards last Sunday, has now acknowledged that he got that decision wrong.

“I think in hindsight now, having discussed it with some other referees... I think the general consensus would be that a penalty was probably the outcome there that should have been given,” Gardner told Sky Sports' Will Greenwood Podcast.

“I think we need to see a wrap with both arms, and I think in hindsight – although he got pinned – there wasn’t a big enough wrap from both arms, really. There was a wrap with one arm, but there wasn’t a wrap with the other arm.”

When asked why that was not his opinion at the time, Gardner replied: “The angles that I saw with the TMO, which were the head-on angles, showed a clear wrap of the front arm, but it was the back arm which got pinned.

“Of the angles that I was showed in the stadium at the time, that seemed to me to be enough of a wrap for me to constitute a legal tackle.

“It was never high and so all we were looking at was the tackle technique. The collision itself also kind of swayed my decision because it was a big rugby collision and we see these hits in the game.

“We don’t always get it right and we understand that there are going to be decisions that are going to heavily influence the game. At this level the expectation is that we do get it right – and that’s what we’re striving to achieve – but we don’t always.

“I suppose that’s the best way, just to be honest about it. If I made a mistake, I’ve got to put my hand up and say I was wrong, and hopefully if I see that again then I’ll know where I’m heading.”

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