Eddie Jones does not know what will come of Owen Farrell’s controversial last-play tackle on Ander Esterhuizen after the England co-captain found himself sweating over a potential citing ahead of next week’s visit of the All Blacks to Twickenham.
Both Farrell and Jones – and the best part of 80,369 fans – were left with their hearts in their mouths when Australian referee Angus Gardner reviewed Farrell’s tackle on the South Africa replacement after initially blowing the full-time whistle for Saturday’s autumn international.
After reviewing the footage of the tackle with Irish TMO Olly Hodges, it was decided that Farrell had wrapped his arm enough to make the hit a legal one and not a shoulder charge, much to the fly-half’s delight as he celebrated the victory with his teammates.
But the 26-year-old will still wait nervously with the potential to be cited for the challenge still a possibility, and the irony is that it will be a Kiwi who decides his fate in the form of New Zealand match citing commissioner Keith Brown, who has until 5pm on Sunday to take any action.
Speaking after the 12-11 victory, England coach Jones vented his frustration with what gets cited in the current era, but didn’t give his opinion on whether he believes his co-captain will face any action.
“You can get cited now for something you did at a party when you were 15,” he joked in his post-match press conference. “The good thing is they didn’t have iPhones when I was 15. We had Nokia phones… the little ones that didn’t have a camera.
“I’ve got no idea what can happen.
“I was thinking I hope he doesn’t penalise us. It was a good solid tackle. It’s not for me to adjudicate.”
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus was just as humoured afterwards, with the former Munster boss taking a rather sarcastic approach that, despite his claims, shone through in his response.
“Nothing upset me, because if it was legal we just have to latch on a little bit and tackle the same. If it was legal, we should do it because it’s very effective. To tackle a guy like Andre Esterhuizen like that and stop him in his track, that’s unbelievable, so we’ll have to try and practice that.”
Match citing commissioner Brown must now decide whether Farrell’s tackle warranted a red card, although the fact that his shoulder did not make contact with Esterhuizen’s head should fall in his favour in trying to avoid any possible ban that would rob England of their most influential player from the visit of New Zealand.
Pushed on whether his sarcastic tone demonstrated his unhappiness, Erasmus added: “No not at all, I just think it’s really effective.”
Given that the narrow one-point victory, which was built largely on England’s impressive defensive performance that was led by Farrell, No 8 Mark Wilson and flanker Tom Curry, gives England back-to-back wins over the Springboks, Jones was still in a fiery mood.
Asked by The Independent whether the win was the most important of his England career to-date given the 18 players that he was unable to select for this match due to a combination of injury, suspension and retirement, the Australian launched into a bizarre response about the media’s desire to have him sacked.
“The most important thing is what we do next,” he answered. “I don’t understand this guys. We’re a bloody good team. We lost a few games but we played tough today and we won.
“Why is it always the most important game? Because you want to sack me? You’re going to do it at some stage. You know that. You know that. If I stay long enough, you’re going to get me sacked. One day you’ll be happy. You’ll come in and say ‘Fantastic, we’ve got another bloke we can terrorise”’.
“It was a good Test match. We’re happy, they’re not so happy.”
He also turned one eye towards next Saturday’s eagerly anticipated clash with the reigning world champions, whose first-team is already up the road from Twickenham after being sent on from their tour of Japan, who their reserves beat 69-31 in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“We’ve got New Zealand next week, can’t wait mate,” Jones added. “They’re all sitting in the Lensbury [Hotel] probably drinking cups of tea, maybe having some scones, saying ‘oh we’ll take these guys’.
“They’ll be confident and we can’t wait to get them.”
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