Farrell was sent off at Twickenham on Saturday when his yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Taine Basham was upgraded to a red by the ‘Bunker’ review system.
The fly half was expected to receive a relatively lengthy ban, of perhaps six weeks, that would have ruled him out of England’s first few Rugby World Cup matches, given the severity of the hit and his previous citing for a similar offence earlier this year.
But the hearing decided that a “late change in dynamics” due to Jamie George’s involvement in the contact area “brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier”.
Using this mitigation it was decided by the all-Australian panel that Farrell should have been sanctioned with a sin-binning only and he is now free to play in England’s final two warm-up games against Ireland and Fiji over the next fortnight.
The ruling from the hearing stated: “The player acknowledged that whilst he had committed an act of foul play, he denied that the act was worthy of a red card.
“After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail and hearing submissions from the player’s representative, the Committee concluded that the Foul Play Review Officer was wrong, on the balance of probabilities, to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card.
“The Committee determined, when applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, that mitigation should be applied to the high degree of danger found by the Foul Play Review Officer.
“The Committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier. In the Committee’s opinion, this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red card threshold.”
After a review of the evidence, it was decided that although the foul play review officer was wrong to upgrade the yellow card, the panel said no criticism of the foul play review officer was being made given the time in which he had to review the incident and make a decision.
Additional reporting from PA
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