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Referee takes unusual step of admitting mistake over Owen Farrell tackle

Referee Angus Gardner has admitted he made the wrong call in not giving a penalty to South Africa for Owen Farrell’s ‘no arms’ tackle on Andre Esterhuizen.

England got their autumn off to a winning start with a 12-11 victory but the match finished in controversy when the England fly-half landed a huge hit on the Springboks centre when the clock had passed 80 minutes.

Australian official Gardner consulted television match official Olly Hodges on what decision was warranted, with a penalty putting the visitors within kicking distance of the posts.

And after opting against penalising the England co-captain, World Rugby Referee of the Year Gardner conceded to his mistake.

Speaking to Sky Sports’ Will Greenwood Podcast, Gardner said: “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.”

“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.”

Explaining what had influenced his in-game decision to not award a penalty, Gardner said he was limited by camera angles available to the TMO.

“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.

“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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