England captain Owen Farrell has decided to take a step back from international rugby and will miss the 2024 Six Nations Championship.
The fly-half, who has earned over 100 caps for the Red Rose and has led them in the past two Rugby World Cups, has cited his and his family’s ‘mental well-being’ as the reason for the decision.
Done with England’s blessing
Both Sarries and the RFU released a statement supporting the call made by the Red Rose captain, with Steve Borthwick saying they are “fully behind Owen’s decision.”
“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,” England head coach Borthwick said.
“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 came to prominence as a teenager, helping Saracens to the 2011 Premiership title before making his international debut as a 20-year-old in the 2012 Six Nations.
The playmaker quickly established himself as an important part of the squad, both in terms of his on-field talent and his leadership qualities, and started every game in their Six Nations triumphs in 2016 and 2017.
He took over the captaincy from Dylan Hartley in 2018 and was made permanent skipper ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Once again, Farrell was crucial as they reached the final before they succumbed to South Africa in the showpiece event.
The fly-half, who has also played plenty of his Test rugby at centre, continued to be a vital player for the national team after that global tournament, but he has endured a difficult 2023.
Regularly criticised for his tackle technique, Farrell was sent off for a dangerous hit on Taine Basham during a World Cup warm-up match, which eventually led to a four-match ban.
As the Red Rose skipper, he has also come under fire for the side’s subpar performances over the past few seasons, but the 32-year-old impressed in the global tournament.
After returning from suspension, Farrell took the reins at fly-half and guided England to a semi-final, where they were just edged out by eventual champions South Africa, 16-15.