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Owen Farrell to miss Six Nations ‘to prioritise mental wellbeing’

The England captain will take a break from international duty

Harry Latham-Coyle
Wednesday 29 November 2023 16:03 GMT
Owen Farrell is England’s record points-scorer but will miss the Six Nations
Owen Farrell is England’s record points-scorer but will miss the Six Nations (Getty Images)

England captain Owen Farrell will take a break from international rugby union and miss next year’s Six Nations.

The fly half, who became his nation’s leading international points scorer during the Rugby World Cup, has chosen to step away from England duty “in order to prioritise his and his family’s well-being”.

Farrell has won 112 caps for his country, who begin their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on 3 February.

He will remain available for Saracens, the club confirmed in a statement.

“Everyone at England Rugby is fully behind Owen’s decision,” said Steve Borthwick, England head coach.

“Since making his debut, he has been an integral part of the England set up for over a decade and the demands on elite athletes are extremely challenging. He is an exemplary player, captain and leader and always gives his all for his country.

“It is with typical courage that Owen has made this decision to open up in this manner. Together with all of us at England Rugby, I will do everything I can to ensure that he has the support he requires going forward.”

Farrell made his England debut in 2012 and has been a mainstay under three head coaches.

Farrell (centre) has decided to step away from international rugby (Getty Images)

He was appointed as captain under Eddie Jones, leading his side to the final of the 2019 World Cup, and retained the role through this year’s tournament in France.

England were narrowly defeated by South Africa in a Stade de France semi-final. George Ford and Marcus Smith were the other fly half options in Borthwick’s squad for the tournament.

One of the most decorated domestic players of his generation, Farrell has won six Premiership titles and three Champions Cup crowns.

“Owen Farrell has decided to take a break from international rugby in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being,” said the Saracens. “As always, Owen will have the full support of everyone at the club.”

The club face Northampton Saints at the StoneX Stadium on Saturday.

Farrell will remain available for club Saracens (Getty Images)

His decision to step away from the game temporarily leaves England short of leaders, with Courtney Lawes, Farrell’s regular deputy, having confirmed his retirement at the conclusion of the tournament in France.

Tom Curry, another man who has captain England recently, will also miss the Six Nations due to injury.

Ellis Genge and Ford operated as vice-captains during the World Cup, while Farrell’s Saracens teammates Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Ben Earl could also be leadership contenders.

“I love what I do and I’m passionate about it and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon,” Farrell said earlier this month at the Investec Champions Cup launch. “I absolutely love what I do. You see the way some of the boys have come back from this international period and performed for their clubs, that’s because they’re enjoying being back at the clubs and the challenge that’s in front of them at the time.

“We’re unbelievably lucky and I’m unbelievably lucky to do something that I’m really passionate about. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

“I want to play as long as I can, if I’m excited about what I am doing. If I’m not, then I won’t do what I want to do anyway – I won’t play for the teams that I want to play for and I won’t play to the standard that I want to.”

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