Referee Angus Gardner has admitted he was wrong not to penalise Owen Farrell for a controversial 'no-arms' tackle in the final moments of England's win over South Africa.

England won their first game of the Quilter international series 12-11 but the match finished in controversial fashion as Farrell's hit on Andre Esterhuizen went unpunished.

Gardner reviewed the tackle on the big screen at Twickenham and decided no offence had been committed. If he had penalised Farrell then the Springboks would have had a kick at goal to win the match.

South Africa were furious at Gardner's decision and the Australian official has now said that after discussions with his fellow referees he has realised he made the wrong call.


"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 Rupert Cox on 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."

Gardner, who was named referee of the year at the World Rugby Awards, said he made his decision due to only seeing front-on angles of the collision which didn't make it clear whether Farrell had wrapped his arms.

It was not the only controversial decision involving Farrell's tackle technique this autumn, with Australia upset he was not penalised for a hit on Izaak Rodda during their defeat at Twickenham on Saturday.