Owen Farrell: “You play in competitions to win. It was gutting to lose like that.”


England finished the Six Nations in second place for the third year in a row, and while that may not seem like progress the reality on the pitch is that their game has come on leaps and bounds.

Fly-half Owen Farrell had an excellent tournament, but, predictably, does not agree with the view that England should be happy with finishing as plucky losers again.

“I don’t know – you play in competitions to win them, don’t you,” he points out. “It was gutting to lose out in the way we did, but I think the main point that you take away from it is that we got better as a team and we made big steps forward.

“When you look at the development – and leading up to the World Cup that’s pretty important – everyone was hurting from the weekend but as long as we made those steps forward then we’ll be ok.”

The England squad watched the France v Ireland game together, being in the strange position of having to cheer on the French. Farrell says it was a galling way to find out where they would finish, with their fate completely out of your hands.

“Yeah – it was horrible. I’ve never had anything like that before. There were a few opportunities [for the French] at the end and that’s just sport really, isn’t it?”

With Farrell chastised at times in his career for standing too deep and many laying the blame – unfairly, it must be said – at his door for England’s stuttering attacking game, it is refreshing to see him attacking with intent and sparking the backline into life. Has there been a conscious change in mentality to go out and be more aggressive?

“We’ve always had that intent,” he says. “We’ve always wanted to – it’s just the details that we’re putting on top of things now, and making sure that we’re developing and getting better, and we’ve done that over the course of the Six Nations.”

Half-back partner Danny Care is another who had a brilliant Six Nations, adding pace and zip to the England attack. Farrell is wary, however, of placing too much credit at any one player’s door – an opinion indicative of the team-focused atmosphere Stuart Lancaster has engendered within the England environment.

“I think obviously Danny’s been outstanding over the Six Nations, but it’s a whole squad effort, everybody that’s been involved in the squad, never mind everyone that plays at the weekend, have contributed to the team playing like it is. It’s that squad togetherness that helps you play like that.”

With the Six Nations done and dusted, it’s back to domestic affairs this weekend as Saracens take on Harlequins at Wembley in a game that is set smash the record for the highest attendance for a club rugby match ever. The game will be exclusively live on BT Sport and Farrell, a BT Sport Ambassador, says that the pressures of returning to club action are largely similar to those faced at international level.

“You put the pressure on yourself because you put the practice in,” he says. “You train since you were a kid to play in these sorts of stadiums and these sorts of events, so you’re just putting the pressure on yourself to deliver when it comes to these stages.

“It’s a massive privilege to play in all the big games but at the same time you put the work in not so you just turn up on the big stage but in every game you play in. To be involved in those big games and play in stages like that you’ve got to perform consistently.”

farrell rutherfordAway from the rugby at Wembley there is an intriguing charity event taking place at half time as Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford attempts to catch three up-and-unders – one after the other – without putting any down. If he succeeds, he wins £1 million for Sport Relief. As an Olympic champion though, this sort of pressure should be a walk in the park, right?

“It’s been about twelve years – more than that actually – since I last played a game of rugby, let alone had to catch any high balls,” admits Rutherford. “If I don’t catch all three I’m going to get absolutely batter by everyone! The pressure’s on.”

If you’re down at Wembley on Saturday make sure you cheer Greg on as he attempts to win a lot of money for a great cause.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Greg Rutherford takes on the Catch-a-Million challenge for Sport Relief at half time during Saracens v Harlequins at Wembley on March 22nd. The match kicks off at 3pm and is exclusively live on BT Sport 1.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

19 thoughts on “Owen Farrell: “You play in competitions to win. It was gutting to lose like that.”

    1. Agree with that and nice to see it being expressed without being a ‘bad loser’.

      I hope the focus words in the England camp for the remainder of this year are “accuracy” and “execution”, drill the forwards mauling work to perfection and get the backs able to convert those half chances (or 95% chances in some cases!)

  1. I can’t believe what I’m reading: ‘With Farrell chastised at times in his career for standing too deep and many laying the blame – unfairly […]’


    It was primarily YOUR BLOG that were the ones pointing the finger at Farrell! I literally cannot believe the hypocrisy in this article. This is the exact reason why all the writers and commentors on TheRugbyBlog need to take a good long look at how negatively they write about almost everything to do with the England team.

    1. What probably was unfair was for him to be singled out as the main problem for England’s attack. He was part of the problem but not all of it.

      I was in the camp of those who thought we would never have a good attacking game with Farrell at 10. Just because I’m very happy to have been proved wrong and now have a different opinion doesn’t make me a hypocrite, it just means I was wrong!

    2. Matt has summed up my riposte, really. I never said he was the only problem, just part of it. It’s nice to see him, and England as a whole, playing a really good attacking game now. You can’t argue that before their attack wasn’t stilted.

    3. Got to agree with Matt and Jamie here.

      I read that line as, on reflection is was clearly unfair to blame him for Englands attacking woes. Whereas you have clearly read it as, “you were all unfair to blame Farrell, look how good he is.”

      When you consider nobody suggested it was solely his fault, your comment appears to be quite an overreaction!

      Really impressed with Farrell this 6 nations. He has been playing this way for Saracens all year and I’ve been saying that he will transfer it to the England stage eventually, it’s great to see!

    4. I’d come at this the other way – in many games it was completely fair to lay the blame at his door just like it is completely valid to say that Priestland didn’t get the Welsh backline moving this year.

      Farrell has improved, I don’t think he’s yet playing as well as did on the Lions tour though so something is still stuttering.

      1. I think it’s about separating symptom and cause. I think a lot of of was down to Dickson and Farrell not being a compatible pair and that’s why his play in the Autumn seemed such a retrograde step from the Lions performances. Farrell is benefiting from having a playmaker inside him (with a running threat) who is bringing him onto the ball.

        So whilst what we observed was him standing too deep, ponderous play and hoofing a lot of ball away he’s not solely to blame for it, e.g. if Dickson was swapped in for Care I reckon we would be more or less back where we were.

        1. Personally I also think he’s not in the 10 slot too often – he hits too many rucks, both in attack and defence, for my liking.

          He’s not a great 10, but he’s grown into a good game controlling 10 imo.

          1. … which is mostly what you need in today’s game. If you can get a game controller who can also be a bit of a wizard then fantastic, but there are so few of them around … Carter … anyone else ?

            1. That’s exactly it, people will knock Farrell, but I genuinely don’t think there are many 10s in the world right now that I’d prefer to have. Probably Carter and Sexton.

              To me they are the only two that have the ability to control a game, and take the ball to the gain line and play great attacking rugby. When you consider Sexton’s poor kicking stats, he isn’t that far ahead of Farrell for me either.

              A year ago I would not have been saying this, but it seemed to be the Lions your (maybe learning from Sexton a bit) that has brought his attacking game out, and he carried that into this season with Sarries, and now England.

              He is not Quade Cooper, but he does offer more than enough.

            2. Ah forgot to say. Completely agree he hits far too many rucks, and his petulant side annoys me.

              I would say though – I really like that edge about him, I just think it can be channelled better, which should come with age and experience.

            3. I have hopes for George Ford based on his premiership form and the last 10 minutes against Italy. No doubt any wizardry will be coached out of him in due course!

              Assume you exclude Hook on game management grounds?

              1. Yep, seen Hook cause too much damage to be able to trust he could setter is through a run of games.

          2. I like a fly half who offers attacking threat through kick, pass and run (Sexton being a good example). Farrell’s made progress in all 3 and is nowhere near as far behind Sexton as he was this time last year.

            What drove me nuts initially was all you would here out of him were Farrell Snrs words “We want to use defence as an offensive weapon” and I’m thinking “I want to use offence as an offensive weapon”. Now you here him talk about attack a lot more which I take as another sign his focus is where it needs to be!

            Still needs to stop being a tool with the cheap shots and off the ball stuff, it will be good for him to feel a bit of pressure from Ford (or Burns hopefully next season) which I hope will help focus his mind as well.

  2. The great thing about this blog is as soon as Brighty damns a player, they obviously read his comments and then go away and work on their weaknesses. Brown, Lawes, Farrell, Vunipola, etc. Thank you Brighty you are single handedly improving the England squad! To be fair I was with you on many of the criticisms.

    1. Wow, I hadn’t noticed that. Right, I’m going to write a long, long missive about Rhys Priestland right now. Fingers crossed!

      Brown is a freak. Can’t recall a player doing such a convincing zero to hero in such a short period in recent years.

      1. I guess I notice your comments on English players but I have in mind criticism of Cian Healey’s scrummaging before the Lions as well. You better really go to town on Priestland! :-)

        1. Two words that disprove the theory “Chris Ashton”.

          But if he can work some magic with Tom Youngs’ throwing and May’s confidence I’ll be happy.

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