Cape Town - Owen Farrell’s hit on Springbok replacement centre Andre Esterhuizen looked like a penalty but wasn’t malicious.
That is the view of legendary former England centre Jeremy Guscott, who expressed his views via a column for the BBC Sport website.
Saturday’s Test between England and South Africa ended in dramatic fashion when Australian referee Angus Gardner opted not to award the Springboks a penalty after it appeared as though England co-captain Farrell had executed a dangerous no-arms tackle on Esterhuizen.
“To me, it looked more a penalty than not. I don't think most people would have been surprised if referee Angus Gardner had punished Farrell for it, rather than deciding it was not an offence. It was instinctive rather than malicious, though,” Guscott, who played 65 Tests for England between 1989 and 1999, wrote.
Gardner consulted Irish television match official Olly Hodges, but in the end took the decision upon himself and determined that Farrell had made enough of an effort to wrap his arms in the collision.
But Guscott continued: “As soon as you go above the waist nowadays you are in a dangerous zone. The shoulder can ride up or the player can dip into contact and either way you are bringing the possibility of a high tackle.
“Of more concern for Farrell was whether his arms were involved in the tackle or if it was a straight and illegal use of the shoulder. You could see that there was an attempt with his left arm, but at high pace and from the awkward position that Farrell found himself in, it was difficult to claim that he was wrapping his man. It appeared there wasn't enough there to keep the destiny of the match in England's hands.”
Farrell on Sunday also escaped disciplinary action when he was not cited for the incident, leaving him free to face the All Blacks this weekend.
READ Jeremy Guscott’s full column on the BBC Sport website