Henry Arundell opens up on England future and his Racing 92 ‘development’

Colin Newboult
Henry Arundell scoring a try for Racing 92 against Bath in the Champions Cup 2024.

Henry Arundell scoring a try for Racing 92 against Bath in the Champions Cup 2024.

Henry Arundell has revealed that he will definitely return to the Premiership after his contract with Racing 92 ends, making himself available for England in 2026.

The exceedingly talented young back is currently in France after agreeing a deal with the Parisians following the demise of London Irish.

Initially, it was only for one year, but Arundell then dealt a blow to the Red Rose and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) by extending his stay with Racing for a further two seasons.

That means he won’t be heading back to England until 2026 at the earliest, but the 21-year-old insists that he will return in time for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Chat with the head coach

He has spoken to Steve Borthwick and told the national team boss how the move to the Top 14 can improve him as a player.

“He fully wants me to play for England and I’ve got so much respect for him,” Arundell told The Big Jim Show. “We had a very good conversation and I told him this is purely development and this three-year contract is not for me to just enjoy playing in France and eat croissants every day.

“It’s to get better for England, when I come back, I’m a better player for England. When I was playing for England, I wasn’t the best player I could be, and even now, I’m still learning a lot.

“Playing in the big games, playing in the Top 14 each week where every game is massive and you have to win, that’s where you learn. You learn to fail, and you learn to get better and maybe avoid that English media side of things – that can sometimes have a big influence on young players.

“So I’ll be there for three years, three-year contract and come back and hopefully be the best version possible to be picked for England and offer the best for England.

“For me, it’s very much a development focus, and in three years, I’ll 100% be back to England to play and put myself forward for the 2027 World Cup.”

England’s eligibility laws

Following Arundell’s shock decision to stay in France and Owen Farrell’s rumoured move to the same club, Racing, the RFU’s eligibility criteria has come under further scrutiny.

Currently, players plying their trade outside of England cannot represent the Red Rose, but some believe that law should now be axed.

With more and more individuals deciding to leave the Premiership, including the likes of Sam Simmonds and Jack Nowell, the RFU’s hand could soon be forced.

“I one hundred per cent understand why they do it. It makes complete sense,” Arundell added. “You’ve got to look after your domestic league, and you want the best players playing in the domestic league.

“My experience now playing in the Top 14, every club we go to, all the fan bases, as soon as they see Gael Fickou and Cameron Woki, it’s massive. It’s paparazzi, it’s everything. They love it.

“Fans want to talk to all of them, and that should be the same here (in England). England internationals should be the biggest faces in this league and I understand why they do it.

“Obviously now, I’m going to say I’d love it if they open it up… but I understand why they do it.”

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