England captain Owen Farrell announces break from international rugby


England captain Owen Farrell has announced he is taking a break from international rugby.

His club side Saracens said the 32-year-old was stepping back from the national side to “prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being”.

It means the fly-half will not be available for selection for the 2024 Six Nations.

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

“As always, Owen will have the full support of everyone at the club,” Saracens said in a statement.

England coach, Steve Borthwick, said in a statement everyone in the England set-up was “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 said in a statement.

“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.”

The Rugby Players Association (RPA) – the representative body of professional rugby players in England – also said Farrell had its “unconditional support”.

“He is a leader and a figurehead in the English game, but is also an individual, husband and father,” the RPA said.

“His well-being comes first, and we will support him in every way we can going forward.”

England’s Owen Farrell captained the side during 2023 Rugby World Cup

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Farrell is England’s highest points scorer of all time in rugby union, with more than 1,200 points in 112 tests for his country.

He eclipsed the previous record of 1,179, set by England’s Rugby World Cup-winning fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, in October in a match against Samoa.

Farrell, who made his debut for England in 2012 against Scotland, was part of the 2016 Grand Slam Six Nations win and helped England retain the trophy the following year.

He also captained England to victory in the 2020 Six Nations, as well as a second-placed finish in the 2019 Rugby World Cup and a third-placed finish in this year’s tournament.

Owen Farrell is the latest high-profile athlete to go public on his struggles

Rob Harris

Sport correspondent


As England rugby union captain, Owen Farrell enjoys prestige and profile. But also pressure.

The responsibility of being the face of the national team brings scrutiny and expectation.

Especially after a recent two-month Rugby World Cup campaign in France when England narrowly missed out on a place in the final.

For now Farrell plans to miss the Six Nations in 2024 to prioritise his mental wellbeing on a break from international rugby, while continuing to play for club side Saracens.

The 32-year-old is the latest high-profile athlete to go public on his struggles.

Ben Stokes stepped away from international cricket with England for six months in 2021.

However, while a vocal player on the field, former England coach Stuart Lancaster told The Times newspaper in 2022 that he is “more introverted than extroverted” off it.

Farrell also told the BBC in 2018: “I’ve always been comfortable speaking, especially on the field. Probably not as much off the field.”

Farrell is the latest high-profile English sports star to step back due to mental health.

In 2021, England Cricket Test captain, Ben Stokes, took a six-month break from the sport after suffering from panic attacks.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Adam Peaty, 28, pulled out of the British Swimming Championships earlier this year due to mental health reasons.

In January, British gymnastics star Ellie Downie announced her retirement from the sport, aged 23, to prioritise her “mental health and happiness”.

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