Owen Farrell admits he was “nervous” over conversations about his wish to leave Saracens as the Gallagher Premiership club confirmed his departure.

French club Racing 92 announced last month Farrell will link up with them from July 1 on a two-year deal, making him ineligible for England selection as Rugby Football Union rules do not permit players who ply their trade abroad to be chosen for the national team.

Farrell, 32, had already announced that he would miss this season’s Guinness Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

Saracens said in a statement on Wednesday the “most important thing” is for Farrell to put himself and his family’s well-being first and that they would be announcing several ways to honour the player before his departure.

“It’s tough leaving a place that has been my home since I was 14,” Farrell said in an interview published on the Saracens X account, formerly Twitter.

“It has been a difficult decision but it is an exciting one for our family. It has never been something we have thought about before, doing anything different.

“But for the first time ever we thought it would be good to go and experience something different and the time feels right.

“I was nervous about having some conversations, even bringing it up, because it’s never been thought about, let alone discussed before.

“But once we got into the conversations they were easy to have because of the calibre of the people here.

“The club have been fantastic with us throughout this year and it really counts for something when they care about nothing but the person.”

Farrell has won six Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups at Saracens and is in line to make his 250th appearance for the club next month.

He has won 112 Test caps, led his country in the last two World Cup campaigns and is England’s record international points-scorer.

Farrell said: “I want to enjoy the rest of this year. We talked about it at the end of last year but we want to do as well as we possibly can.

“It has never been taken for granted playing for this club. People stay here for a long time, as a lot of us have.

“Going in to the back end of the year we are looking to make it the best we can. I can’t wait to enjoy that over the coming months.”

Finn Russell believes Owen Farrell will be the ideal fit for Racing 92 as England’s fly-half follows in the footsteps of his 2021 Lions team-mate.

Farrell will become ineligible for England selection until 2026 after agreeing a two-year deal that will bring an end his trophy-laden time at Saracens, his only professional club.

The move to Paris next season will reunite the 32-year-old with Stuart Lancaster, Racing’s head coach who gave Farrell his England debut in 2012.

Russell spent five years with the Top 14 leaders before joining Bath after the World Cup and the Scotland playmaker, speaking before Racing confirmed the move on Monday, is backing Farrell to make it a success.

“I loved my time in Paris,” Russell told the PA news agency at the premiere of Netflix’s Six Nations: Full Contact documentary series.

“It’s really close to London so it will be easy for him to go backwards and forwards to his family.

“I don’t know what it’s like under Stuart Lancaster and it will potentially be better for Owen with Stuart being there. The two of them will know each other from the past because of Lancaster’s time at England.

“It’s a great club and a great city to live in. I loved my time there. Owen will be great, he will fit the way they are playing just now really well.

 

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“Everyone views him as a kicking 10 but he’s got a great attacking game as well. He will be great for them.”

Russell’s own change of scenery has revitalised the 31-year-old as well as Bath, who are riding high in the Gallagher Premiership and have reached the knockout phase of Europe.

Scotland fans will be hoping some of that magic rubs off on their team heading into the Guinness Six Nations in the wake of a disappointing group exit from the World Cup, albeit having competed in one of the toughest pools in the tournament’s history.

What is being seen as a ‘golden generation’ of Scottish talent has yet to produce tangible success in the Six Nations and Russell, one of two co-captains for the Championship, wants to end a period of underachievement.

“For us the Six Nations has been frustrating over the last few years,” Russell said. “Last year we got off to a good start but never managed to continue it.

“This year it’s ideally about doing a bit better and winning the first two, three or four games if we can.

“It would definitely be frustrating if we didn’t manage to finish up with a title given the players and strength in depth that we have in the squad. However, all the other teams are getting stronger as well.

“We’ve got great strength in depth in the squad now and we potentially have the chance to win something, but we’ve had that for the last few years and we haven’t managed it.”

Owen Farrell’s departure for Racing 92 next season has been confirmed with the Saracens captain agreeing a two-year deal with the Parisians.

The ramifications for England and the Gallagher Premiership are significant and place the Rugby Football Union’s eligibility rules under the spotlight.

Here the PA news agency looks at the key questions surrounding the England and Lions fly-half’s move to France.

Why has Farrell joined Racing 92?

Farrell has not spoken publicly since news of his potential move to the Top 14 broke earlier in the month, but there are myriad reasons explaining its appeal. The 32-year-old has spent his entire career at Saracens where he has won every honour in the game and could be revitalised by a fresh challenge in a thriving league. There is the obvious financial appeal of playing in France when the generous salary cap means he could command close to £1milion a season. But the big question is just how much his departure from Saracens is a result of the intense and at times vicious scrutiny on England’s captain, especially during the build-up to the World Cup in France and during the tournament itself. Perhaps his decision to rule himself out of this year’s Six Nations to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing provides the answer.

What does it mean for England?

 

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Eligibility rules dictate that Farrell will be unavailable for selection when he leaves the Premiership, denying England the services of their talisman, leading Test points scorer and third most capped player. Farrell could realistically have expected to remain in contention for the number 10 jersey for the next two years – the duration of his Racing contract – so head coach Steve Borthwick is losing an influential player with much still to offer, raising the possibility that the World Cup bronze final victory over Argentina in October was his final international.

Could the eligibility rules change?

No. Instigated by the Rugby Football Union with the full backing of Premiership Rugby, they will remain in place for the foreseeable future despite the number of England players heading across the Channel. The rules are seen as critical to keeping the best talent on these shores, strengthening the English top flight and giving Borthwick greater control over his stars during international periods. Each nation has its own approach to the selection of overseas-based players – for example New Zealand have the same policy whereas South Africa have no restrictions whatsoever – but there is no will in England to loosen current rules.

Should England fans be worried?

Of England’s World Cup squad Farrell, Jack Willis, Joe Marchant, David Ribbans and Henry Arundell will be playing in the Top 14 next season with Lewis Ludlam and Kyle Sinckler set to join them. Other Red Rose internationals are already there. The size of the contingent is growing but two names really jump out – Farrell and Marchant. England did not want to lose their captain and fly-half at this point and Marchant was their first-choice outside centre at the World Cup, but his decision to join Stade Francais comes with the caveat that it was made before he had nailed down a place in Borthwick’s starting XV.

Is it Borthwick’s biggest concern?

While the departures of Farrell and Marchant are clearly a blow to England and the Premiership, Borthwick has more pressing concerns than the unavailability of a group of players on the fringes of the starting XV. A priority is to find two scrummaging props to take over from remarkable veterans Dan Cole and Joe Marler, whose set-piece expertise was proven to be so crucial at the World Cup. And the perennial problem position of inside centre still has only a stop-gap solution at best as the injury-prone Manu Tuilagi nears the end of his Test career.

Owen Farrell could have played his last game for England after French club Racing 92 confirmed that he will join them next season.

The Saracens fly-half and captain will link up with the Parisians from July 1 on a two-year deal.

It will bring to an end his long and successful Saracens career that began in 2008 and has been littered with European and Premiership titles.

Farrell, 32, had already announced that he would miss this season’s Guinness Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

And he will become ineligible for international selection when he moves to France due to Rugby Football Union rules that do not permit players who ply their trade abroad to be selected for the national team.

His last England appearance was the World Cup bronze medal match against Argentina in Paris on October 27, which England won narrowly.

Racing are coached by Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his Test debut in 2012 when he was England boss.

Farrell has gone on to win 112 caps, lead his country in the last two World Cup campaigns and is England’s record international points-scorer.

He would be 34 if he leaves Racing after two years and returns to England, suggesting any international return would be unlikely.

Farrell, though, would be on the British and Irish Lions’ radar for their 2025 Australia tour, which will see his father Andy fill the role of head coach.

A statement from Racing read: “Racing 92 formalises the signing of Owen Farrell within its professional men’s team.

“The English international player is committed to two sporting seasons and will join the Ciel et Blanc squad from July 1, 2024.”

Farrell will link up with the likes of South Africa’s double World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi at Racing, along with exciting England back Henry Arundell.

Speaking after he announced his Six Nations squad last Wednesday, England head coach Steve Borthwick said: “I think what’s important is that Owen makes a decision that is right for Owen and his family.

“Will a player of Owen’s calibre be missed if he chooses to play outside of England? Yes, of course.

“Do I want him in some point in the future to come back? Yes. But I also want him to do what’s right for him and his family and have the experiences and the memories that he wants to make.”

Farrell’s decision will be a major blow for Saracens, although Racing’s announcement will not have caught them on the hop as Saracens rugby director Mark McCall recently revealed that he knew what decision Farrell had made.

Farrell apart, a number of players who were key to Saracens’ sustained European and Premiership successes over the past 10 years are unlikely to be involved after this summer.

Some will be out of contract and departing, and others retiring, and McCall said last week: “Everybody realises the adventure we’ve been on is coming to an end, and there is a new adventure about to start with a group of younger players we are incredibly excited about who have signed up for the longer term.

“Players are going to retire or they are in the twilight of their careers – it is just the cycle of a team.

“I suppose all good things come to an end, and there is a re-energising effect and impact of a new group.

“We have met with the players who we believe will grab hold of it over the next three or four years. We have met with them regularly over the past couple of months.

“There is a new dawn coming, and it is exciting for everybody.”

Saracens have lost five of their last eight games and slipped outside the Premiership top four.

But they recovered from a record 55-15 European defeat against Bordeaux-Begles to book an Investec Champions Cup round-of-16 place by beating Lyon on Saturday.

French club Racing 92 have confirmed England fly-half Owen Farrell will join them next season.

The 32-year-old will leave Saracens after 15 seasons to move across the Channel after agreeing a two-year contract.

Farrell, who is to miss the Six Nations in order to prioritise his mental well-being, will become ineligible for international selection due to Rugby Football Union rules.

The RFU does not allow players who are plying their trade abroad to be selected for England.

Racing are coached by Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his Test debut in 2012 when he was England boss.

A statement from the Paris club said: “Racing 92 formalises the signing of Owen Farrell within its professional men’s team.

“The English international player is committed to two sporting seasons and will join the Ciel et Blanc squad from July 1, 2024.”

Jamie George has been named England captain for the Six Nations.

Owen Farrell will still be available for the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia led by his father Andy if he joins Racing 92 next season.

Owen is considering a lucrative move to the Top 14 having spent his entire club career at Saracens, making him ineligible for England selection until he returns to the Gallagher Premiership.

The 32-year-old fly-half has already ruled himself out of the Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing, placing his international future in doubt.

But the Lions insist overseas-based players will be considered if Farrell wants them in his squad, even if the finish date of the Top 14 means they might be unavailable for the early games.

“We don’t have a policy that closes off anyone from being selected,” chief executive Ben Calveley said.

“If you just look at previous Lions tours, we’ve had people come on a tour who haven’t been playing for a national side.

“Will Greenwood is a great example, even though we are going back a way there (1997). In 2021 Finn Russell was based in France, so we don’t have any restrictions on selection.”

Farrell will lead the Lions for the first time as reward for his success with Ireland, who he has led to a Grand Slam, an historic 2-1 series victory in New Zealand and to the top of the world rankings.

And he would be willing to pick Owen if his performances justify a place in the squad as the Lions aim to win their first series win since Australia in 2013.

“We’ll consider everyone in regards to whether they will make a difference too the Lions touring party. That’s all that matters,” Farrell said.

“It’s about form, it’s about watching the game properly. Selection, as far as that’s concerned, is the same as for everyone else. No different.”

Farrell insists he has not spoken to Owen, England’s captain since 2019, about his possible move away from Saracens but backs any decision the three-time Lions tourist makes.

“It’s his choice. He does what he thinks is right for him in that moment in time. You can’t go wrong in that regard, can you?” Andy Farrell said.

“It’s a player’s prerogative. It’s their career and it’s a short career. You’ve got to do things that float your boat, that make you and your family happy.

“A career is all about the memories you’re going to create, not just for yourself but for others as well.

“For some, it’s the thought of devoting yourself to one club is extra, extra special and Owen has done that at Saracens.

“But if things do change, and I don’t know whether they will or they won’t, then it will be for the right reasons for doing the right thing for whatever that person needs to do to be happy.”

Farrell worked as an assistant under Warren Gatland on the 2013 and 2017 tours, experiences that left a lasting impression on the 48-year-old Englishman.

“I love everything above the format. I lover the build up to the games. I love how tough that is for the touring party and all the different dynamics that go with that,” Farrell said.

“When it goes to one-all and the Australians are so relieved like in 2013 – you saw the captain on the floor with tears in his eyes cos you knew what it meant.

“Getting yourself back up that week to put in a performance like we did in the third Test is a memory that will stay with you forever. I’m hoping for another one.”

Racing 92 have denied England captain Owen Farrell is close to joining the Top 14 club.

The Saracens fly-half, who is missing the Six Nations to look after his mental heath, is reportedly poised for a move to France.

Racing 92 are coached by former England chief Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his international debut in 2012.

A Racing statement said: “Racing 92 is regularly under the aegis of numerous speculations concerning movements within its workforce.

“We are delighted with the appeal of our club Racing 92. However, we deny any agreement concerning the English player Owen Farrell.”

Farrell became England’s leading points scorer at the World Cup and is reportedly out of contract at Saracens at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old has spent all of his career at the club but could now make a surprise move to France.

He has also given England coach Steve Borthwick no indication he plans to return. Farrell is also likely to be unavailable for the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.

“We are all hopeful Owen will return to the England team at some point soon, but that’s going to be a decision Owen makes,” Borthwick said.

“Owen and I spoke right at the end of the World Cup. We were actually in Paris. We took a walk and he shared some of his thoughts and what he was thinking at that point in time.

“Then he took a period of reflecting and we met a couple of weeks later and he told me of his decision to step away. He expressed some of his feelings, which is clearly a confidential conversation.

“The first thing I’ll say there is I’m full of admiration for this guy – as a man, a player and a leader. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s done.”

Saracens have been approached for comment.

England captain Owen Farrell is close to joining Top 14 club Racing 92, according to reports.

The Saracens fly-half, who is missing the Six Nations to look after his mental heath, is reportedly poised for a move to France.

Racing 92 are coached by former England chief Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his international debut in 2012.

Farrell became England’s leading points scorer at the World Cup and is reportedly out of contract at Saracens at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old has spent all of his career at the club but could now make a surprise move to France.

He has also given England coach Steve Borthwick no indication he plans to return.

Farrell is also likely to be unavailable for the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.

“We are all hopeful Owen will return to the England team at some point soon, but that’s going to be a decision Owen makes,” Borthwick said.

“Owen and I spoke right at the end of the World Cup. We were actually in Paris. We took a walk and he shared some of his thoughts and what he was thinking at that point in time.

“Then he took a period of reflecting and we met a couple of weeks later and he told me of his decision to step away. He expressed some of his feelings, which is clearly a confidential conversation.

“The first thing I’ll say there is I’m full of admiration for this guy – as a man, a player and a leader. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s done.”

Saracens have been approached for comment.

Owen Farrell’s future with England remains uncertain after Steve Borthwick revealed he has been given no indication by his captain that he plans to return.

Farrell will miss at least the Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing following last autumn’s World Cup in France, during which the Saracens fly-half was repeatedly booed by supporters at games.

With Farrell also likely to be unavailable for the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand, there is the possibility that the bronze final victory over Argentina in November was the 32-year-old’s final Test for England.

When asked if Farrell will play for England again, Borthwick replied: “I’m really hopeful he does.

“We are all hopeful Owen will return to the England team at some point soon, but that’s going to be a decision Owen makes.

“Owen and I spoke right at the end of the World Cup. We were actually in Paris. We took a walk and he shared some of his thoughts and what he was thinking at that point in time.

“Then he took a period of reflecting and we met a couple of weeks later and he told me of his decision to step away. He expressed some of his feelings, which is clearly a confidential conversation.

“The first thing I’ll say there is I’m full of admiration for this guy – as a man, a player and a leader. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s done.

“I made it really clear there’s no pressure on him, that it’s his decision to be made at the time that’s right for him.”

Borthwick is dismayed by the number and viciousness of online trolls at the World Cup, insisting the vitriol Farrell faced mirrors the growing mistreatment of some high profile figures in the game.

Farrell was caught in the eye of the storm following his red card for a dangerous tackle against Wales in August, a decision that was overturned and then reinstated in reaction to a public outcry.

Meanwhile, referees Wayne Barnes and Tom Foley have spoken of the influence online abuse had on their recent decisions to retire after the World Cup.

“In England alone we’ve seen a player – a captain – and two match officials step away at the top of their game because of certain issues,” Borthwick said.

“There are societal issues that are going on here. The online hate that is spread is not OK, it’s not right.

“For people to have to endure that, their families to have to endure that, to drive people out of the game, is just appalling.

“I don’t have the answers to it but I do know it’s wrong and they’re not true rugby fans that are saying this stuff.

“None of us expected what happened at that World Cup in that area, or for it to be at that level of vitriol against certain people and certain teams.”

A new England captain will be appointed later this month with Jamie George, George Ford and Ellis Genge leading candidates, but Borthwick ruled out an approach to Courtney Lawes.

Lawes announced his international retirement at the end of the World Cup but has been in superb form for Northampton so far this season.

“Courtney’s been playing really well but he was pretty clear to me about his step,” Borthwick said.

England are to provide greater support for the welfare of their players in response to captain Owen Farrell taking a break from Test rugby to prioritise his mental health.

Farrell made the shock decision just weeks after leading England to a third-placed finish at the World Cup in France – during which he was regularly booed by fans – and he will miss at least the Six Nations.

The fly-half’s international team-mate Kyle Sinckler stated that Farrell taking a step back was “only the beginning” because of the workload and pressure faced by players at the highest level.

As well as being booed at games, Farrell has been the victim of online abuse and there is an acceptance at the Rugby Football Union that playing for England brings with it a growing level of scrutiny.

“We just want to support Owen and all the time we are looking to improve the wrap-around care for players. That is the most important thing,” RFU executive director of performance rugby Conor O’Shea said.

“It is getting more and more difficult and febrile to operate in some of these environments so we need to look really carefully at this to make sure we are the best at it.”

Head coach Steve Borthwick is to be given greater control over his most important players with the introduction of 25 ‘hybrid contracts’.

But while he will be able to set an England star’s conditioning program and influence medical decisions when they are with their clubs, he will not have the scope to dictate what position they play.

Marcus Smith was primarily used as a full-back during the World Cup but Borthwick would be unable to insist he wears the 15 jersey for Harlequins were he to be given one of the new contracts.

“We are very careful when it comes to selection and where a player will play at his club,” O’Shea said.

“The deal is that players are paid to win at the weekend and so clubs will make that final call where the player plays.”

O’Shea has been involved in shaping plans for a new-look second tier of English club rugby that will sit below the Gallagher Premiership.

The league – tentatively named ‘Premiership 2’ – would replace the existing Championship with teams currently in that competition invited to indicate whether they wanted to be involved.

If there was insufficient interest then all funding to the Championship in its current form would be pulled by the RFU, who believes the competition needs a significant overhaul.

“What are you investing in? You’d rather take that money and invest it in other things,” RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

“I know it’s a controversial topic, but where are you going to get that return on investment?

“We’ve shown that if you pour money into the existing structure of the Championship, it just doesn’t deliver. That’s not being disrespectful, it just doesn’t.”

Owen Farrell will make his first appearance since his decision to step away from Test rugby was announced when Saracens launch their Investec Champions Cup campaign on Saturday.

England captain Farrell will be unavailable for the Six Nations later this season after choosing to take a break from the international game to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

He then missed Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership defeat against Northampton due to a knee problem.

But Saracens rugby director Mark McCall has confirmed the 32-year-old fly-half will face leading South African challengers the Bulls in Pretoria.

“He’s available and he is going to play this weekend,” McCall said. “He has trained fully over the last two days.

“He has enjoyed being with his team-mates, and it is a great opportunity for us all to spend a bit of time together away from the British winter.

“I don’t know how many European Cup games he has played – him and Alex Goode have probably played in more than anybody at the club.

“He is our captain, he is our leader, someone who is respected by everyone at the club. To have him on the field, of course, is an enormous benefit.

“Not just to have him on the field, but have him in the team-room, in the meetings… His contribution is so enormous and it is great to have him here with us.”

Three-time European champions Saracens have won the tournament more than any other English club, although they made a quarter-final exit last term to eventual winners La Rochelle.

And they will tackle a Bulls side currently third in the United Rugby Championship, having won five out of seven league fixtures this season.

McCall added: “We have been really impressed with what we have seen, especially in their last couple of home games. They are strong in all areas.

“Games don’t get much tougher in round one than coming to the Bulls, especially with the run of form they are on, but it is a challenge which usually brings the best out of the group we have got.

“We’ve had a good relationship with this competition for a very long period of time. It has felt really good on the training field from the moment we touched down here.”

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 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.

Owen Farrell has returned from the World Cup with the hunger to prolong his career for as long as possible.

Farrell led England to a third-place finish in France following an agonising semi-final defeat by South Africa but, unlike a number of his international peer group, the 32-year-old has no intention of looking towards the finishing line.

Ben Youngs, Courtney Lawes and Jonny May played their final Tests at the World Cup, while Dan Cole, Joe Marler, Danny Care and Manu Tuilagi are also close to signing off at the highest level.

But Farrell has raised the possibility that he could still be present for Australia 2027 as England enter a period of rebuilding.

“I love what I do, I’m passionate about it and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon,” the Saracens captain said at the season launch of the Investec Champions Cup at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“I’m unbelievably lucky to do something that I’m really passionate about and I want to play as long as it can if I’m still excited about what I am doing.

“The two go hand in hand because if you’re not excited then you won’t do what you want to do anyway, you won’t play for the teams that you want to play for and you won’t play to the standard that you want to.

“I wouldn’t sit down and set targets. But I also wouldn’t say they are not in the back of my head, quietly.

“I wouldn’t be one to say ‘I have written this down, this down and this down, this is what I want to achieve and this is what I am working for every day’. But they are there in the background.

“The exciting bit is what’s in front of us. Where you can take what you’ve been doing and how to get the best out of yourself. Hopefully there’s loads more of that.”

Farrell’s immediate aim is to help Saracens challenge for silverware on two fronts with the Gallagher Premiership already under way and their Champions Cup opening against the Bulls on December 9.

Saracens have won three European titles, their most recent coming in 2019, and the competition retains a special place in Farrell’s heart.

“When I was still at school and watching the rugby I couldn’t wait for the then Heineken Cup, now the Champions Cup,” the fly-half said.

“You’d sit there on a Friday night, then all day Saturday, all day Sunday, sometimes you didn’t move because there was just big game after big game.

“There is something about European games that make them bigger. These are games that teams look forward to and therefore end up putting their best out there on the field.

“There are a lot more big games, they sell out and the atmosphere changes a bit. I can’t quite put my finger on why but there are some European nights you’ve played in that are memorable.”

Steve Borthwick signed off an encouraging World Cup after England edged Argentina 26-23 at the Stade de France to claim third place.

The Pumas paid the price for allowing England to build a 13-0 lead and while they fought back to control the second half, Borthwick’s men held their nerve to send scrum-half Ben Youngs into Test retirement with a bronze medal.

Their only defeat at France 2023 was the agonising 16-15 loss to South Africa in the semi-final.

“I’m delighted for the players to get the win after they have worked so hard,” Borthwick said.

“We won six games out of seven and lost one game by one point to the current world champions and current world number one, which shows the progress of the team. It shows how the team has built during the tournament.

“Playing finals games at World Cups is important. In the last two World Cups this group of players have played six finals games and won four of them.

“Clearly we want to be in the final and winning the gold medal. That wasn’t to be, but having finals experience has been important for this squad.

“The players should be very proud of their efforts and the challenges they have overcome. While things haven’t been perfect, they find a way to win games.

“Now we didn’t last weekend – we lost by a point, which will hurt for a long time. But when the players have found themselves in tough circumstances they have found a way to win.”

With all neutrals at the Stade de France supporting Argentina and with Red Rose fans making the trip across The Channel in small numbers only, England played in the most hostile atmosphere they have encountered at this World Cup.

Captain Owen Farrell was booed throughout and most noisily when he was lining up penalties and conversions.

“I wasn’t surprised. It’s usually like that here. When you play against France in Six Nations here, they don’t cheer you when you’re having a shot at goal!” Farrell said.

“It’s a bit different here in France to how it is over in England when a kicker’s taking a shot. But that’s what it is – just different. That’s no problem.”

Argentina head coach Michael Cheika felt that his Pumas did not get the rub of the green with referee Nic Berry, especially at the scrum.

“The game could have ended differently especially when you look at the final 15 minutes,” Cheika said.

“We did everything we could and we deserved more, both in terms of result and refereeing.

“Three or four scrums we were dominating and despite that we got no reward for it. For me that was very surprising.

“To be here on October 27 is very positive for the fans and for us. What is missing for us is excellence. It’s hard to accept losing this game and draw any positives from it.

“I believe that our trajectory over this World Cup will make Argentinians proud. We will come back stronger.”

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