Andy Farrell shouldered the burden of blame for Ireland's Six Nations loss to England as his side were outplayed at Twickenham on Sunday. 

Ireland's hopes of a Grand Slam, following back-to-back wins over Scotland and Wales, were dashed as Eddie Jones' men ran out deserved 24-12 winners.

The visitors were up against it from the moment George Ford capitalised on Johnny Sexton's error to score the opening try after seven minutes, with the Ireland fly-half enduring a rare off-day.

Sexton's error-strewn display, which included two woefully miscued penalty attempts, summed up Ireland's afternoon as Farrell's charges came up well short.

"Disappointing. I think the scoreline flattered us a little bit," Farrell told BBC Sport after seeing Andrew Porter's last-gasp converted score narrow the gap.

"We started firing a few shots when the game was over and that's not what we want to do.

"I think it was a knock-on effect of cumulative errors. The opposition had something to do with it obviously, they played really well.

"They played like a side that was desperate to stay in the competition, so fair play to England for that. But we'll look at ourselves for the reasons we allowed them to play the game they wanted to play.

"First and foremost, I look at myself. Why were England up for it, winning the physical edge? That's down to myself.

"The reality is the last try at the end allows the points difference not to be too bad and we're in the competition.

"We go into the Italy game knowing what we've got to do. If we perform like we want to in that game we'll take it to the last weekend."

A strangely out of sorts Sexton admitted Ireland had nowhere to hide after a lacklustre showing.

"We gave a very good team two tries from our mistakes, not covering the chip kick, and then we didn't take our chances," he said.

"We were getting the ball on the back foot, trying to get to the edges and we couldn't, looked a bit silly at times.

"We still have a big home game against Italy and if we can do that we still have a championship to play for.

"We need to be a bit better, not play in certain areas of the field when we are going backwards."

New Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was in awe of the way captain Johnny Sexton carried his side in his first appearance for club or country in almost two months.

As former assistant Farrell takes on the senior coaching role following Joe Schmidt's post-Rugby World Cup departure, Sexton is now the Ireland skipper after Rory Best retired.

And the Leinster fly-half was at his influential best on Saturday to secure a 19-12 victory at home to Scotland in their Six Nations opener, scoring all of Ireland's points - including the only try of the match.

Sexton had been out of action since a 45-minute shift in the European Champions Cup against Northampton Saints on December 7, and he has played just three times for Leinster in total this season.

Farrell told ITV: "He's not played for a long time, Johnny. It says a lot about a guy when he's passionate about being captain of his country in the Six Nations for the first time.

"He's trained with us for the last 10 days and that's the only real time he's been involved with team rugby, and he goes out and puts a performance in like that. He was outstanding, for me."

Sexton's team-mates did not look quite so convincing in a match that ended following a nervy stand in front of the Ireland try line, but Farrell was delighted with the team's spirit.

"There's always going to be things to work on, things we're trying to implement that are going to take time," he said. "Some of them were good, some of them were bad.

"Decision-making was up and down at times. I thought we looked quite fluent at times, but sometimes we got a little carried away with our decision-making. It's a start.

"But we asked the players all week to make sure they stand for something, and boy did they stand for a bit of grit.

"They were under the pressure in the first half on their own line quite a few times. And then you culminate that with what the last five minutes said about the team, I think it's there for all to see really."

Andy Farrell set his stall out when he named "a hell of a team" for his first game as Ireland head coach against Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday.

There had been much debate over who would get the nod at the start of Farrell's reign following the agony of Ireland's Rugby World Cup failure.

Just over three months after Joe Schmidt's reign ended with a 46-14 World Cup quarter-final drubbing at the hands of New Zealand, Farrell showed he is ready to do things his own way when revealing his hand for the clash at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

The dual-code international put his cards on the table ahead of schedule, handing a start to uncapped number eight Caelan Doris with Ronan Kelleher poised to make his debut off the bench.

Conor Murray kept his place over the in-form John Cooney, with Johnny Sexton leading the side following Rory Best's retirement.

While the names in the 23 were always going to be the main topic of discussion, Farrell very much made a statement with his tone and timing of the delivery.

He has had plenty of time to consider his approach to being a head coach after serving as an assistant, having been named as Schmidt's successor in November 2018.

Asked about naming his first team earlier than expected, the straight-talking Englishman replied: "I'd rather just get it out there and get on with the week."

The 44-year-old added: "There is a little bit of paralysis through analysis. You can look too much into things the whole time.

"It doesn't bother me about putting a team out there because that's all I’m bothered about, our team. Backing ourselves. You've got to make a decision and we've got a hell of a team going into Scotland."

There has been talk around the Ireland camp about a freshness that Farrell has brought after Schmidt's glorious spell in charge came to an anticlimactic end.

Ireland headed into the World Cup on top of the rankings and it is only two years since they won the Grand Slam.

Although they were unable to live up to expectations in Japan, you only have to look at the bench for the showdown with Scotland to see the strength in depth Farrell can call upon.

Peter O'Mahony, Cooney, Robbie Henshaw, Andrew Conway and the recalled Devin Toner are among the replacements.

Farrell has spoken of his intention to take Ireland in a "new direction", and there is surely no doubt he has the experience and passion to make a seamless step up to the top job.

Caelan Doris will make his Ireland debut when Andy Farrell's side open their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The Leinster number eight will play from the start, meaning CJ Stander switches to blindside flanker and former Lions captain Peter O'Mahony begins on the bench.

Leinster's Jordan Larmour has overcome a foot injury to beat Will Addison to the starting spot at full-back, with Jacob Stockdale and Andrew Conway the two wings for Ireland.

New captain Johnny Sexton starts at fly-half alongside Munster's Conor Murray, who is selected over John Cooney at scrum-half.

Rob Herring gets the start at hooker, with Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong picked as the props.

Leinster hooker Ronan Kelleher is the other player who is in line to make his debut, though he starts among the replacements.

Ireland finished third behind Wales and England in last year's Six Nations before suffering a humbling defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, meaning a disappointing end to a highly successful era under Joe Schmidt.
 

Ireland XV to play Scotland: Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton (c), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Peter O'Mahony, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

Captain Johnny Sexton and wing Jordan Larmour are expected to be fit for Ireland's opening game of the Six Nations against Scotland.

Sexton has not featured since early last month due to a knee injury but hopes to play a full part in training on Thursday.

The fly-half is optimistic he will be ready to lead his country when they take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium a week on Saturday, having been named as skipper for the tournament by new head coach Andy Farrell.

"Everything's been going to plan, so hopefully I'll take a full part in training tomorrow," said Sexton. 

"I've had no setbacks, once everything goes smoothly in training I'll be available for selection. I think everyone wants to be captain, it's an honour that I was asked to do it. 

"Obviously it's a campaign by campaign thing at the moment [being skipper], so we'll see how it goes over the next eight weeks."

Larmour damaged his foot in Leinster's European Champions Cup victory over Benetton last weekend, but Farrell is hopeful the flyer will be available for the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

Farrell said: "We met up yesterday and had a bit of a walk-through so he was able to partake in that. We'll take it day by day, it's not serious but we'll see how it goes.

"Obviously there're some new guys who are going to freshen things up, but it's not just about that, it's a matter of picking people in form."

Johnny Sexton will be Ireland's captain under Andy Farrell, who has named five uncapped players in his first squad for the Six Nations.

Ex-defence coach Farrell replaced Joe Schmidt as head coach after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, when Ireland suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of New Zealand.

Skipper Rory Best retired after that tournament and Farrell has opted to name 88-cap fly-half Sexton as his replacement for the leadership role.

Ulster duo Billy Burns and Tom O'Toole, along with Leinster trio Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher are the uncapped players in Ireland's squad, which also includes Devin Toner after his World Cup omission.

Those not to make the cut include Rob Kearney, Jordi Murphy and Jack Carty, as well as the injured Joey Carbery.

"We have appointed Johnny as captain for the Six Nations Championship, you can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role," Farrell said on the Irish Rugby Union's website.

"He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the [British and Irish] Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group."

Ireland finished third in the 2019 Six Nations after being beaten by England and eventual winners Wales.

Farrell's first game in charge will come in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 1, with Sexton a doubt to play due to a knee injury he sustained last month.

 

Ireland squad: Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Heffernan, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jack O'Donoghue, Peter O'Mahony, Tom O'Toole, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier; Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Billy Burns, Ross Byrne, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.

Andy Farrell has sprung a surprise by leaving full-back Rob Kearney out of his first Ireland training squad, a 45-man group which will get together in Dublin later this week.

Leinster star Kearney will not be present when new coach Farrell hosts a "24-hour mid-season stocktake" in Dublin on December 22 and 23.

The 33-year-old, who has 95 Ireland caps, played for his country during their recent Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan, including in the heavy quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.

But Kearney has missed out on Farrell's selection, which includes some top names along with a host of uncapped players.

Five of his uncapped Leinster team-mates are in the squad, Jamison Gibson-Park, Will Connors, Caelan Doris, Max Deegan and Ronan Kelleher.

Ulster duo Tom O'Toole and England-born Billy Burns also get the nod, along with Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade.

"The next six weeks is the window for players to put their hands up for selection for our first squad, which will be named in late January ahead of the Six Nations," Farrell said.

"We have limited opportunities across the busy provincial season to bring a broad group like this together, but this 24-hour window will allow us to plant a few seeds.

"It will also give the coaches a better insight into a few players who been performing consistently well for their provinces."    

Ulster prop Marty Moore returns to the fold having not played for Ireland in almost five years.

Leinster lock Devin Toner and Ulster number nine John Cooney are also back after former boss Joe Schmidt did not select them for the World Cup.

Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion join Kearney in missing out on a place in the group.

John Ryan and Tadhg Beirne are both injured and not listed, but Johnny Sexton is included despite currently being out with a knee problem.

The last time England faced South Africa at a World Cup with a Farrell playing as the designated goal kicker at inside-centre, Andy Farrell only took kick-offs.

In 2007, the defending champions went into a pool-stage encounter at the Stade de France with an injury crisis in midfield. Both Jonny Wilkinson and Olly Barkley were unavailable, thrusting Mike Catt into his first international outing at fly-half for eight years.

Outside him was the Wigan Warriors rugby league great who Saracens, with no little financial help from the Rugby Football Union, had persuaded to switch codes. Injuries and prolonged conjecture over what would prove his best position meant Farrell's transition had been far from smooth.

The knives sharpened further as an abysmal England were crushed 36-0. The experiment had failed. What a waste of money. A gritty, back-to-basics line-up with Farrell consigned to the bench recovered to reach the final and lose a more competitive rematch 15-6.

Twelve years later, the on-going returns might mean the RFU have never spent cash so shrewdly, even if Farrell Jr was obviously not a part of the initial grand plan.

Rugby league royalty

"He was kicking and screaming when we came down here," Andy Farrell told the Daily Mail, when recalling his son Owen's reaction to the family's 2005 move from Wigan to Hertfordshire for the switch to Saracens.

"He didn’t want to leave Wigan because he was playing league. But that lasted about two weeks."

By virtue of his father alone, Owen Farrell's lineage is one of rugby league royalty.

A Wigan regular at 16, a Great Britain international at 18 and captain of his country three years later, Andy Farrell was the loose forward, goal-kicking titan of a Warriors team that won six league titles and four Challenge Cups during his 13 seasons there.

Throw in Owen's rugby apprenticeship at the town's celebrated St Patrick's club and the fact his maternal uncle is current Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin and it is easy to see how tightly those ties seemed to bind.

"We planned for him to go back up north on the train every weekend, to carry on playing league," Andy explained.

"He did that once or twice but then I took him to training at Saracens and he soon forgot what he was missing out on."

Hot-housed talent

Speaking to the Mirror last month, Wilkinson recalled Owen Farrell and his partner in England's creative department George Ford as eager teenagers along for the ride at the 2007 World Cup.

Ford's father Mike was England's defence coach at the tournament having been part of the backroom team at Saracens, essentially plotting a path for Andy Farrell as an esteemed former league player who became a high-end union tactician.

“When you look at the calibre of rugby talent in their fathers it comes as no surprise to me what those two have become," Wilkinson said.

"It is no surprise those guys are exploring stuff that we did not get near until we were much older."

Running to fetch Wilkinson's practice balls was virtually second-nature to Farrell. Watching elite training sessions and joining in wherever and whenever he could was something he had done from infancy.

“Faz brought him down from a really early age – it must have been five or six. He always had a rugby ball in his hands – he was destined to play the game,” former Wigan full-back Kris Radlinski told the Express in 2013.

"The players made it a comfortable environment for him. At the end of training, we would start catching and kicking a ball around with Owen. He became one of the lads."

Playing in tandem, as they will in Saturday's World Cup final, Owen Farrell and George Ford lend England an uncommon flair, one forged in the everyman surrounding of league's heartlands in the north of the country – a long way removed from union's public-school tradition.

Big Faz and Little Faz

Owen and George transferring their league-reared and hot-housed skills gave them an advantage racing through England's age-group teams before becoming the heartbeat of Eddie Jones' seniors.

As Andy Farrell discovered more than a decade ago, making the switch in the autumn years of your career is an altogether different challenge.

"He is getting to grips with it but it is probably a bit too late, with his age, to be where he wants to be," Mike Ford said in the aftermath of his friend's South Africa ordeal in 2007.

An international career effectively finished at the end of the tournament, it might have been tempting to return to the loving bosom of league – see Sam Burgess' understandable decision after England's 2015 World Cup campaign went south with him playing inside-centre and scapegoat.

But, despite speculation sometimes hinting in that direction, Andy Farrell's interest in coaching was already piqued and he had a son making waves in the Saracens academy. This was no time to walk away, something his innate determination might never have allowed in the first place.

By 2008, "Big Faz" and "Little Faz", as they were known at Wigan, were part of the same Premiership first-team squad under Jones. Since retiring in 2009, Andy Farrell has become one of the most respected defence coaches in the sport thank to stints with Saracens, England, the British and Irish Lions, Munster and Ireland. He will replace Joe Schmidt as Ireland's head coach when they return to action after the World Cup.

Owen Farrell has won five Premierships with Sarries, three European titles, starred on his second Lions tour in 2017 and risen to become his country's Mr Dependable and captain across an international career where – for now, at least – a 2016 Six Nations Grand Slam is the highlight in terms of honours.

As ferocious in the tackle as he is metronomic from the kicking tee, Owen has quietly become an inspirational leader in his father's mould. Something outlandish will have to happen in Saturday's final for his smirking stare down of the Haka before England's semi-final evisceration of New Zealand not to be the image of the tournament.

"I was always watching dad lift trophies," Owen Farrell told the Daily Mail in 2013. "That made me want to do what he does."

This weekend, the major prize that eluded his father and one that could not have felt further away on that bleak Paris night against the Springbok will be close to Owen's grasp. A would-be centrepiece in the dynasty building of the Farrells: rugby league and rugby union royalty.

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