Owen Farrell fears shared after 'sickening' abuse forces England sabbatical

Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell won't be playing for England any time soon with the rugby star opting for an international sabbatical

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 30/11/2023

- 12:14

Updated: 30/11/2023

- 12:16

The 32-year-old is set to miss the Six Nations next year

Sir Clive Woodward fears Owen Farrell will be 'left to work it out for himself' after the England star announced he wouldn't be playing for his country for the foreseeable future.

The 32-year-old stunned the world of rugby on Wednesday, with Saracens announcing he would be taking a sabbatical from the international scene.

“Owen Farrell has decided to take a break from international rugby in order to prioritise his and his family's mental well-being," a statement read.

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

Farrell has received a barrage of abuse over the past year.

Many fans turned on him when he received a suspension for a high tackle shortly before the World Cup.

Even as he starred for England in the recent tournament in France, Farrell continued to be the subject of nasty comments on social media.

And former England coach Woodward, writing for the Daily Mail, worries Farrell will be forced to 'work things out for himself'.

"I hope, with the decision made and the outpouring of support he has received, he can now look ahead with new-found freedom," he said.

"I hope Farrell sets the tone and inspires new thinking in this area.

"Why is taking a sabbatical not more common?

"No doubt they [the Rugby Football Union] will blame others - especially the media - and create another nameless committee to investigate and put forward their thoughts with zero accountability.

"Farrell will probably be left to work it out for himself. That is so wrong.

"The RFU and other international sides should look at Farrell's situation with real concern but as an opportunity to better support players.

"The world's best businesses build sabbaticals into their HR processes as paid leave. Why not rugby?

"[Farrell] is going to continue to play for his beloved Saracens and I really hope this is not the last we've seen of him at Test level.

"Here's hoping the break does him the world of good and he can return to the international game when he's good and ready."

Farrell has received plenty of support since the news broke.

And former England star Lawrence Dallaglio has dubbed the abuse the fly-half receives 'sickening'.

"I’ve said it many times, Owen Farrell is our captain and potentially England’s greatest ever player," he said on X.

"The level of abuse he receives is sickening.

"I really think it’s time for player sabbaticals such are the demands of the game today."

Current England boss Steve Borthwick has backed Farrell's decision.

He praised the veteran by saying: "Everyone at England Rugby is fully behind Owen's decision.


Sir Clive Woodward

Former England rugby boss Sir Clive Woodward fears for Owen Farrell


"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."

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