Profile: England captain Owen Farrell

England’s Owen Farrell 13/11/2021
Full-blooded, ferocious, fearsome and now the front-runner – Owen Farrell has gone from the young buck to the experienced campaigner and leader of Eddie Jones’ England.

Full-blooded, ferocious, fearsome and now the front-runner – Owen Farrell has gone from the young buck to the experienced campaigner and leader of Eddie Jones’ England.

At one time England’s youngest-ever professional rugby player in union when he made his debut shortly after his 17th birthday for Saracens – Farrell stepped onto that field against Scarlets in the then Anglo-Welsh Cup and began barking orders. He has hardly stopped since.

A leader of men and a goalkicker of rare nerve – Farrell is the key cog for club and country.

He sets the standards for Jones’ side – both on and off the pitch – and will be looking to make up for lost time after a frustrating, injury-hit season.


The son of dual-code rugby legend Andy, Farrell junior has always appeared preternaturally gifted when it comes to the sport of rugby.

Captain of England’s age-groups, he led England Under-20s to a Grand Slam in 2011 alongside his friend and international teammate George Ford.

A year after their age-group triumph however, Farrell was in the pressure cooker of Six Nations rugby.

Stuart Lancaster saw fit to throw him into the starting XV, first at inside centre and subsequently at fly-half for a new-look England team.

He kicked points with now customary precision in wins over both Italy and Scotland and has only grown from then.


Both Lancaster and now Jones have flitted between using him at No.12 and No.10 – the latter being where he has played his best rugby for Saracens and led them to three European titles.

But both England head coaches agree on one thing – Farrell has to be on the teamsheet somewhere.

Four times runners-up in this Championship under Lancaster – when Jones took over they made the leap.

A Grand Slam followed in 2016 – Farrell’s boot key in wins in Paris and in Edinburgh in particular – and another Championship arrived in 2017.

England were on the All Blacks’ tails for the No.1 ranking and Farrell – a Lions tourist in 2013 – became a Test star four years later in their historic drawn series in New Zealand.


In the absence of Dylan Hartley, Farrell was appointed captain for a Championship clash with France in 2018, and then again for the tour of South Africa that summer.

Within a year of his stewardship England registered a first win in South Africa since 2000, subjected Ireland to a first home defeat for two and a half years, and recorded their largest win over France for 90 years.

After a domestic and European double with Saracens, it seemed that 2019 would be Farrell’s magnum opus when England swept aside New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.

His smile during the haka is remembered as one of the sporting images of the year, but he and his team could not replicate that performance in the final as the Springboks reigned supreme.

He added to his previous two Guinness Six Nations medals with another in 2020, his first as captain, as England reclaimed top spot.


Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic Farrell’s mental strength has been tested like never before, with a season in the English Championship and a prolonged spell out through injury.

He has undergone surgery to both ankles since the autumn of 2021 and in doing so missed the duration of England’s 2022 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

Upon his return he helped fire Saracens back into the Premiership play-offs at the first time of asking and is sure to be front and centre of England’s summer tour of Australia.

Now into his thirties, Jones will be mindful of the workload he places upon his captain. The Australian will be equally keen, however, to pair Farrell, the master, alongside Marcus Smith, the apprentice.

That is the combination which Jones hopes will enable his side to go one step further at next year’s World Cup.

Rugby’s ultimate prize would complete the set for Farrell, who will hope to at least draw level with the legendary Jonny Wilkinson for World Cups, if not points scored for England, before he calls time on a remarkable international career.