It has been described as a famous 12-11 victory for England at Twickenham, albeit one achieved over South Africa with no tries, but an incident after the final hooter should alarm rugby followers of all persuasions.

It was the no-arms and high hit by England No10 Owen Farrell on Boks replacement Andre Esterhuizen which, fortunately for the home side, went unpunished.

The collision occurred just inside England's territory after the 80 minutes were up and while the television match official alerted referee Angus Gardner to the potential foul play, the Australian, an experienced official who must rate as one of the best in the world, saw nothing wrong with it and the Boks were denied a chance to win it at the death.

It comes after World Rugby reined in the powers of the TMO following the controversy-riven June internationals, putting the power back in the hands of the referee, who is considered the sole arbiter on the field, but there is a creeping sense that this apparently more lenient attitude might not be the right way to go either.

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England's Owen Farrell, left, tackles South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen near the end during the rugby union international between England and South Africa. Photo / AP
England's Owen Farrell, left, tackles South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen near the end during the rugby union international between England and South Africa. Photo / AP

Farrell's hit was a penalty at least in the eyes of most neutrals - a case could easily be made for a yellow card to be shown - and there was commentary this morning on social media which suggested that had a Pacific Islander been the defender the outcome would have been very different. It's a compelling argument, and so is the one which suggests the outcome would have been different had Farrell made the same tackle in the opening minutes of the test rather than as its last act.

There is inconsistency at play and there is a suspicion of double standards too in the sense that World Rugby have cracked down on exactly these sorts of tackles this year, with the controversial "nipple line" trial at under-20s level brought in and then scrapped because it was apparently too difficult for referees to police, and a threat to ban "upright tackles" altogether.

Forget below the nipples, Farrell's high-impact front-on hit on Esterhuizen was above the shoulder line and the outside back was lucky to avoid serious injury, although had he been hurt Gardiner would surely have been more sympathetic to South Africa.

Afterwards Farrell told the media he tried to wrap his arms around Esterhuizen. "When anybody goes to the big screen, the TMO, and slows it down like they do, of course I was worried," he said. "Thankfully it went our way. It was a pretty big collision. It was tough to get your arms around him."

Please excuse the pun, but this more hands-off approach by the officials towards foul play could be seen too in the All Blacks 69-31 victory over Japan in Tokyo.

England's Owen Farrell, left, tackles South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen near the end during the rugby union international between England and South Africa. Photo / AP
England's Owen Farrell, left, tackles South Africa's Andre Esterhuizen near the end during the rugby union international between England and South Africa. Photo / AP

When No8 Hendrik Tui was initially held up over the line in the act of scoring, his Japan teammate Jamie Henry slammed into the unprotected lower back of All Black Ngani Laumape, sparking a similar, though far less high-impact, response from Waisake Naholo and a bust-up involving the majority of the players on the field plus a few Japan reserves.

Henry's act was replayed several times before the TMO decided he could see a grounding, but there was no reference by him or English referee Matthew Carley, who had a mixed performance overall, to what appeared a clear act of foul play.

World Rugby can't have it both ways; they can't say they're increasingly concerned by concussions in the game and then let these incidents go unpunished. It's not only a bad look for the game it's also a damned dangerous one.