England prop Marler out of Australia Test following positive COVID-19 test

By Sports Desk November 09, 2021

England will be without Joe Marler when they face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after the prop tested positive for coronavirus.

Marler returned a positive lateral flow test on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

The 31-year-old will isolate for 10 days after a PCR test confirmed he has contracted COVID-19.

All of the other England players and staff returned negative lateral flow tests, with additional PCR test results not yet received.

Owen Farrell rejoined the squad on Monday after he missed the 69-3 hammering of Tonga on Saturday, having tested positive for coronavirus last week.

Marler came off the bench in that thrashing at Twickenham, but will play no part against the Wallabies.

He will hope to be available to return when Eddie Jones' side take on world champions South Africa on November 20.

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    Owen Farrell has received the full backing of England head coach Steve Borthwick after deciding to take a break from international rugby to prioritise his and his family’s mental health.

    It means that England captain Farrell, who has led England at the last two World Cups and won 112 caps, will not be available for this season’s Six Nations Championship.

    In his absence – no date has been announced for a Test return – and following the international retirement of Courtney Lawes, Bristol prop Ellis Genge is a probable successor as skipper.

    George Ford would be favourite to take Farrell’s fly-half role for the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on February 3, with Marcus Smith also a contender.

    Borthwick said: “Everyone at England Rugby is 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.

    “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.”

    In a statement announcing the surprise – and sobering – development, Farrell’s club Saracens said: “Owen Farrell has decided to take a break from international rugby in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

    “This means he will not be available for selection for the 2024 Six Nations.

    “He will continue to play for Saracens and captain the club.

    “As always, Owen will have the full support of everyone at the club.”

    The Rugby Players’ Association, meanwhile, added: “Owen Farrell has the unconditional support of everyone at the RPA.

    “He is a leader and figurehead in the English game, but is also an individual, husband and father. His well-being comes first, and we will support him in every way we can, going forward.”

    Farrell led England to a third-place World Cup finish in France last month, but the tournament build-up proved far from plain-sailing for him.

    He was sent off in a World Cup warm-up game against Wales, only for an independent disciplinary panel to cause an outcry when it cleared him following a shoulder-led tackle to the head of Wales forward Taine Basham, which was expected to result in a significant ban.

    World Rugby then appealed that decision, and he received a four-match ban that included England’s opening two World Cup fixtures against Argentina and Japan.

    Farrell’s father – Ireland head coach Andy Farrell – labelled media coverage of the episode “a circus”, while Borthwick said in August: “The commentary around it seems to move from an issue around the tackle to personal attacks on the character of the man, which I think is just wrong.”

    Farrell, 32, was subjected to considerable attacks on social media, and at times during the World Cup he was booed by sections of the crowd during England games.

    Having made his England debut in 2012, Farrell has amassed an England record 1,237 points, recently overtaking Jonny Wilkinson.

    He captained England at the World Cup in the 2019 and 2023 tournaments and has also featured on three British and Irish Lions tours.

  • England captain Owen Farrell to miss Six Nations to ‘prioritise’ well-being England captain Owen Farrell to miss Six Nations to ‘prioritise’ well-being

    England captain Owen Farrell will not be available for this season’s Six Nations Championship after deciding to take a break from international rugby.

    In a statement, Farrell’s club Saracens said his decision had been made “in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being”.

    Saracens added that 32-year-old Farrell would continue to play for them and captain the Gallagher Premiership club.

  • Exeter’s Rob Baxter urges football law-makers to be careful over sin-bins trial Exeter’s Rob Baxter urges football law-makers to be careful over sin-bins trial

    Exeter rugby director Rob Baxter has urged football’s law-makers to be careful after they agreed that sin-bins should be trialled at higher levels of the sport.

    The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has supported the move following a successful implementation in the grassroots game.

    Temporary dismissals of players for offences such as dissent and specific tactical fouls were backed by IFAB at its annual business meeting.

    Sin-bins have been used in rugby for more than 20 years, and they were introduced across all levels of grassroots football from the 2019-20 season in an attempt to improve levels of respect and fair play in the game.

    “I will be honest with you, I am very surprised football are doing it,” said Baxter, who is one of the English game’s most respected voices.

    “I was a bit surprised when football went to VAR, and I am not sure how much they realised they were letting the genie out of the bottle.

    “We are meddlers in sport, and rugby is the worst of the lot. We have actually realised we want less TMO (television match official) intervention, the international game is saying we need less TMO intervention.

    “All the commentators and ex-professional footballers are saying we need way less VAR interference, and if it does happen it has to happen quickly and the crowd need to know what it is about because it is just causing mayhem in big games.

    “Once you start the process it is very hard to stop tinkering with it. They are tinkering with it all the time.

    “One of the things that football has always had as its strength is that everyone can explain the rules within five minutes to your average new supporter and they will get it.

    “My advice to football would be just be careful. Do you think you genuinely need it to improve player behaviour?

    “Or do penalties, free-kicks and yellow cards as they stand, which can escalate to reds for a double yellow, have they got the sanctions already within their game to control player behaviour and they just haven’t been using them?

    “That is what I see in football. They have got the sanctions available in their game, so use them. For player abuse you only need to do it in one or two games and things change very quickly.

    “Introducing yellow cards and removing players from the pitch is something I would be very careful of.”

    Baxter warned against the danger of quick fixes, and believes rugby has had its share of problems in this area.

    “We have been guilty of starting processes without thinking about the repercussions,” he added. “We think they are quick-fixed, and actually are they?

    “The big debate on the football radio this morning was to get rid of VAR completely because they don’t want two-minute stoppages while someone decides if it was a handball or not.

    “We brought that into rugby and realise we’ve pushed it to the Nth degree. You have got to be careful with the card thing.

    “When you start to say that taking players off the pitch is your way of controlling player behaviour, you’ve got to be careful about when you want to limit it.

    “We brought it in the right way because it was for repeat infringements on the whole. It was something that was required in rugby to stop repeat, repeat, repeats in a cynical way.

    “We’ve gone through the period of realising that taking players off the pitch at every available opportunity is not necessarily the way to create a good game.”

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