England forced to look elsewhere as Saracens hold on to Farrell

Andy Farrell is set to remain with Saracens on a full-time basis, honouring his contract which runs until 2014 and rejecting the opportunity to become England’s backs coach on a full-time basis. Farrell received great acclaim for his work with England during the Six Nations, his first involvement coaching at international level which happened to coincide with his son Owen’s debut Six Nations.

The RFU made clear in the days after Stuart Lancaster’s appointment that they would make a move to bring in Farrell on a full-time contract before England’s tour to South Africa this summer, leading up to the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

However whilst Saracens were eager to conclude the talks as quickly as possible, it appears that the RFU were unable to correspond quickly enough and as a result any chance of a deal has fallen through. The Daily Mail have even suggested that Farrell would prefer to stay at Saracens to develop his skills rather than take up the position.

Farrell stated: “It has been a special privilege for me to be involved in the Saracens coaching staff for the past two-and-half seasons. We have made decent progress during this period but, in truth, as a club, we have barely scratched the surface of our potential. The job isn’t anywhere near half done, and I have decided I want to help finish the job.”

RFU CEO Ian Ritchie has added: “Whilst Andy was clearly an important part of the coaching team during the course of the RBS 6 Nations, we fully respect his wishes to continue as a coach at Saracens. We will continue to work hard with Stuart Lancaster to build a world class coaching team as we look towards the Rugby World Cup in 2015.”

England will immediately start looking for a replacement to fill the backs coach position, with former New Zealand and Northampton Director of Rugby Wayne Smith the immediate favourite.


25 thoughts on “England forced to look elsewhere as Saracens hold on to Farrell

  1. The RFU have been making some remarkably sensible decisions lately so surely they have to get Smith?

  2. One bonus with Andy Farrell staying at Saracens is that England won’t be plagued by talk of nepotism for the next four years.

  3. Englands attach was’nt exactly like a hot knife through butter in the six nations. Lets look at this as a turn of good fortune. Everyone can see how much Sarries attack is stalling under Farrell senior. We don’t want those problems or that brand of rugby transferred to our international set up.

  4. I’m not sure to make of this as I’m still a little unclear as to what Farrell did. If he was just the backs coach responsible for set peice moves and generally inspiring inventive attack then I’m glad hes not joining. That was one of the worst aspects of Englands play and Sarries can’t score trys either.

    However if he was responible for defensive systems especially our kick chase then its a real shame as this was a highlight. Having said that England are nearly always good in defense our players always understand it well.

    Obviously Smith has to be the man now. But he is tied up until after the SA tour so will need someone for the time being.

    Maybe a full time defense coach if that was part of Farrell’s job?

  5. He did make England hard to beat but we would have needed an attack coach in the set up as this was the area that England struggled with. Farrell may not have liked that, or he may have wanted to develop his coaching, or the RFU may not have offered enough money to Sarries, or he may have thought that his appointment would have caused trouble for Farrell Jnr, or possibly anything really.

    Anyway agree with regard to Smith.

  6. Do we desperately need a defensive coach anyway? The other coaches will know a fair bit about defensive systems anyway, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Lancaster was on the blower to fine tune a few things with Farrell anyway.

    If we had someone of the calibre of Wayne Smith on board as backs coach, he’ll be able to add a few ideas in to the mix with regards to the defence, what with all the success he’s been a part of with the All Blacks over the last few years. Also, what about Dave Ellis? Is he still coaching the French? If he’s available he could definitely do a job.

  7. Worrying. Farrell may have been a bit of a dud in the attack dept., but then an “advisor” in the shape of Smith could have fixed that, but he certainly provided the goods defensivly and fitness wise. I do hope we don’t lose that zip in our line speed out of defence. I do hope Lancaster has the sense to go for an experienced figure like Smith akin to the role Eddie Jones played for Jake White. Defeence wise, Ellis may be the obvious choice, but given Farrell’s success perhpas we could recruit an “unknown” with new ideas, preferably someone from outside the premiership – we need some new ideas.

  8. Whilst I would have been very happy for Farrell to be Englands defence coach, I don’t the attacking threat of the “England Saracens” would hold any fear for the SH teams if he was entrusted with the attack responsibilities as well.

    A Smith appointment would make me very happy as a statement of intent that we are going to add some intelligence to our play to compliment the endeavour. I suspect Lancaster will want to stay home grown and stick with one backs coach. What about Catt as an option? Any others?

    Don’t think this is a job that many people would have turned down, credit to him for doing so, assuming his reasons are to continue his coaching development at Sarries and see project Sarries through to its conclusion.

  9. Mike Catt. Great shout Matt. May be a bit early but wouldn’t be surprised if he fills that role one day.

    The difficulty is that Farrell covered defence and backs which is an unusual combination. The term ‘backs coach’ is a little outdated now, you generally have an attack coach – he tends to work more heavily with the backs but he is also in charge of the whole shape of the team’s attack. As has been said Farrell didn’t necessarily pass that with flying colours. At various times with NZ Wayne Smith has been both attack coach and defence coach so could certainly cover all the bases but he is not an out and out defence coach.

    I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if they bring in 2 people and end up with a similar structure to Wales where Gatland is Head Coach (and spends time with the forwards), McBride is forwards coach, Edwards defence and Howley attack.

    Wayne Smith’s experience would be welcome but it would be interesting to see how a coaching team works in which the Head Coach is by far the least experienced of the coaches. His word has to be the final one but Rowntree and Smith in particular have lorryloads of coaching experience. Would be an interesting dynamic.

  10. Personally i thought Farrell’s role with the England team was as defence and basic skills coach. Much the same as his original role at Sarries. If this was the case then England have lost out, because the two things this new look England team got spot on were the basic skills, and the defensive patterns. Even if Farrell had stayed on, they would still need a full time attack coach.

    I like Matt’s suggestion of Mike Catt as attack coach. He’s done some good work with Irish the last couple of seasons, and knows the inner workings, having played for England for years.

  11. I like Catt seems like he has a bright future but there is no evidence to suggest he is on a par with Wayne Smith

      1. Yes if your assumptions about Farrell’s role are correct.

        My point was that i don’t see why people would say they want unproven mediocrity (Catt) when we can have proven world class (Smith).

        1. Personally I think NZers would also identify with the culture and values Lancaster has instilled. So I don’t see that bringing in Smith is somehow going to dilute the desire to play for the shirt and he brings a lot we don’t have.

          I do think a Lancaster preference for an all home grown team is a possibility we should consider though. In this case Catt is the best option I can think of to get our attack flowing.

          1. Matt your first point seems to completely contradict the second. You see no problem employing a Kiwi but you want it to be all English?

            Why are we even contemplating someone who (so far) has achieved absolutley nothing in terms of silverware, never coached at international level and is currently part of a seriously faultering club over the guy that masterminded the best attack in international rugby for last 7 years.

          2. Unless its on a short term just to see us through this SA tour although i do see that being quite problematic having 3 seperate attack coaches in less than 12 months.

          3. I see no problem, but I’m not Lancaster (English rugby would be in a bad place if I was!). All I’m saying is Lancaster may look for a home grown coach, if this is the case who does he go for?

        2. Please don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have Smith. But if he’s not available until after the tour…………………….We need someone in place to get some attacking nouse in the play before they fly out for the tour. Without it we will get smashed.
          Catt could possibly fill that role. And like Lancaster, until he was given the chance we didn’t really know how he would do. It is possible that if Catt was given the job short term, he could prove that at this level, with the right players he could do the job.

  12. Brian Ashton as attack coach, at least until the kiwi is available?

    I’d not blame him if he told the RFU to stick it where the sun don’t shine, tho.

  13. But who will Lancaster have with him for the SA tour. Even if Wayne Smith will join eventually it will not be in time for the tour and a coaching team of Lancaster and Rowntree is far too small for a tour party of 40+ as Lancaster was doubting only taking 3 coaches. I know Brian Ashton was mentioned a few weeks ago but as TonyTaff points out, he may turn that down.

    So assuming Wayne Smith is the long term appointment who fills in immediately? Why can’t Andy Farrell just help out again for a month?

    1. It may be that during the discussions that took place that the agreement was to have Farrell go on the tour, but once that was done he would be free of all England commitments for the forseeable.

      I don’t know this; merely speculating of course. The truth is I am more likely to be wide of the mark, but I would like to think this would would be the short term fix to the issue.

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