Owen Farrell breaks silence on Saracens exit: It’s the right time to leave

Owen Farrell - Owen Farrell breaks silence on Saracens exit: It's the right time to leave

Owen Farrell said that it was the right time to leave Saracens as the former England captain broke his silence on his decision to join Racing 92 this summer.

More than two months after the French club announced his signing, Saracens confirmed that Farrell will be leaving the club after an 18-year association. The 32-year-old, who stepped away from international rugby following England’s World Cup campaign, will join Stuart Lancaster’s Racing on a two-year contract in July.

Farrell admits that it will be a wrench to leave Saracens, for whom he made his first appearance as 17-year-old and is closing in on 250 appearances for the North London club.

“It is tough to be leaving a place that has been my home since I was 14,” Farrell said. “This is where I’ve grown up, met a lot of my friends and of course started my family. It has been a difficult decision but it is an exciting one for our family. It has never been something we have thought about before, but for the first time ever we thought it would be good to go and experience something different, and the time feels right.

“Saracens is a very difficult place to leave. The club have been fantastic with us, and it really counts for something when they care about nothing but the person. I have loved everything about this place, the people especially, and I’ll always be thankful to the fans who support us every weekend.

“It has never been taken for granted playing for this club. Going into the back end of the year we are looking to make it the best we can, and I can’t wait to enjoy that over the coming months.”

Moving to the Top 14 will make Farrell ineligible to play for England under Rugby Football Union regulations having already stepped back from Test rugby to protect his and his family’s mental health. Farrell was booed throughout the World Cup and became a constant target of social media abuse.

Lancaster: ‘I hope Owen ends up back in England’

Yet with Farrell having won 112 caps for his country, Lancaster believes that his international career is not yet at an end and pointed to his own example of reinventing himself at Leinster following England’s 2015 World Cup group stage exit. “He’s signed for two years so that takes him up to 2026,” Lancaster told Sky Sports News. “Johnny Sexton played for Ireland and Leinster until he was 38, Owen is 32. So he’s definitely got 2027 in him for sure. I would never say never, Owen won’t and why should he?

“Owen had a big part to play in the decision-making about coming here. Things didn’t go well at the Rugby World Cup [for him] and for me the same thing happened in 2015 and the best thing I did was to go to Ireland. I hope he ends up back in England as a player or a coach, but a couple of years here will do good just like for Jonny Wilkinson when he went to Toulon.”

For Saracens, Farrell’s departure will mark the end of an era. Fellow long-serving players Mako and Billy Vunipola are expected to depart and director of rugby Mark McCall has previously said that a “new dawn is coming” at the club. Sam Spink, the Western Force centre, is expected to become Farrell’s indirect replacement with Alex Lozowski taking over the fly half duties. Saracens, the defending Premiership champions, are currently fourth in the table.

“Owen joined Saracens at 14, and everyone at the club knows we have been privileged to work with a once-in-a-generation player,” McCall said. “A fierce competitor on the field, a loving team-mate and a family man off it, Owen has been the heartbeat of Saracens since his senior debut and central to all the club has achieved. We can’t wait for the next phase of this season with Owen and to see him enjoy the opportunity that is ahead of him. He will always be part of the Saracens family.”