Cape Town - Australian referee Angus Gardner has admitted that he should have penalised England’s Owen Farrell for a controversial tackle on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen during a Test at Twickenham earlier this month.
Gardner opted not to award the Springboks a penalty after it appeared as though England flyhalf Farrell had executed a dangerous no-arms tackle on the Springbok centre.
"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 said on the Will Greenwood podcast, as quoted by Sky Sports.
Gardner made the comments shortly after he was named World Rugby’s Referee of the Year at a function in Monaco on Sunday night.
"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."
Gardner did however explain why he made the decision at the time. He said the available angles on the screen at Twickenham made it appear as though Farrell had done enough to wrap his arm in the 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," Gardner added.
The incident occurred in the final move of the match which England subsequently won 12-11.
When probed on the incident in the post-match press conference, at the time Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus had an interesting view: "We should start tackling like that and execute it like that. Nothing upset me about the tackle we just have to latch on that if it is legal, it is effective. Tackle a guy like Andre and stop him in his tracks is some going. There is no sarcasm at all."
Despite saying he was not being sarcastic, it became obvious that Erasmus was incensed by the decision, as video footage emerged the following week showing Erasmus teaching Esterhuizen how to execute a tackle like Farrell did.
Farrell was not cited for the incident.
WATCH: Rassie coaches the 'Farrell tackle'