England fly-half and captain Owen Farrell, aged 32, will take a break from his international career in order to recharge his batteries mentally, his club Saracens announced on Wednesday, with whom he will continue to play. “Owen Farrell has decided to step away from international rugby in order to prioritize his mental health and that of his family,” the London club said in a statement. “This means he will not apply for the 2024 Six Nations Tournament” at the start of the year.
The opening half with 112 caps was one of the great architects of the surprise journey of the XV de la Rose to third place at the recent World Cup in France. He notably broke the record for points scored in the selection, previously held by the legendary Jonny Wilkinson.
A player with an assertive character, often the target of criticism, Farrell did not participate in the first two matches after receiving a red card during the summer preparation. English coach Steve Borthwick will have several options to compensate for his absence during the next Tournament, between the experienced George Ford (30 years old, 91 caps) or the great hope Marcus Smith (24 years old, 30 caps).
The coach respects 100% the choice of his number 10. “Everyone in England supports Owen's decision,” he declared. The demands placed on top athletes are extremely high. He is an exemplary player, captain and leader who always gives the best of himself for his country. [...] I will do everything in my power to ensure that he receives the support he needs in the future.
England will begin the competition on February 3 in Italy and finish on March 16 in France.