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Owen Farrell: Racing 92 confirm signing of England international from Saracens

England international Owen Farrell will move to France to join Racing 92 when his contract with Gallagher Premiership club Saracens expires at the end of the 2023/24 season; Farrell's decision to move to France means he will not be able to play for England under current RFU regulations

England's Owen Farrell during the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-final match at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France. Picture date: Sunday October 15, 2023.
Image: Owen Farrell's move to Racing 92 has been confirmed by the French club

Racing 92 have confirmed the signing of Owen Farrell on a two-year contract.

England international Farrell, who is currently taking a break from Test rugby for mental health reasons, had been in talks with the six-time French champions over a move to the Top 14 when his current contract with Saracens expires at the end of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season.

In a statement posted on the club's website on Monday evening, Racing confirmed Farrell will be joining them from July 1 on a two-year deal.

The 32-year-old has won 112 caps for England and served as captain during the 2018 summer Test series in South Africa before being officially appointed as Dylan Hartley's successor for the following year's Six Nations.

He opted to step away from the international game in the wake of England's third-place finish at last year's Rugby World Cup, and his decision to move to France means Farrell will be ineligible to play for the national team due to RFU regulations which, at present, do not permit head coach Steve Borthwick to select players based abroad.

His Saracens club-mate Jamie George has been named as England captain for this year's Six Nations.

Racing director of rugby and former England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his international debut in 2012, had previously stated he would be delighted to have the fly-half join him in Paris.

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Sky Sports explains why Owen Farrell could be putting his international future at risk with a move to French club Racing 92.

"Racing are often linked with key players and I'm lucky my relationships with players from England and Ireland are all part of that, but we'll see," Lancaster said earlier this month.

"He would be a great signing, who wouldn't want a player like Owen Farrell?"

Scotland international Finn Russell, who enjoyed five seasons with Racing and now plies his club trade in the Premiership with Bath, had previously stated he believes fellow No 10 Farrell can be a success in the Top 14.

However, he urged Farrell to embrace everything about the culture in France as quickly as possible to ensure he gives himself every chance to make a big impression in the competition.

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England boss Steve Borthwick says he admires captain Owen Farrell for his decision to step away from international rugby, but is hopeful he will return.

"I loved my time in Paris, and you've got to go there with an open mind and try to fit in and take to their way of life and culture as much as possible," Russell told Sky Sports at the premiere of Netflix's Six Nations: Full Contact documentary series.

"It is different, it is challenging at times, but if I went over there and was stuck in how I did things in Scotland then you'd find it quite difficult.

"The quicker you can get up to speed with the language and just embrace everything, even if it's tougher times, it's good fun.

"I think he'll be great over there if he does go."

'English players departing to France a growing trend' | 'This is Farrell calling time on his England career'

Speaking to Back Pages on Sky Sports News, Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail and The Times' Martyn Ziegler highlighted some of the main talking points of Farrell's transfer.

One being the growing trend of English players leaving to France's Top 14, and making themselves ineligible for the national side. And the other being that, for all the talk of Farrell potentially returning in the future, this perhaps was a way of him calling time on his England career.

"He's clearly faced a lot of criticism, he's come under a huge amount of scrutiny, particularly on social media. From that aspect, this might be a case of putting himself at a little bit of a distance away from England, and looking for a fresh start abroad," Al-Samarra said.

"He's at the stage in his career when a lot of players might consider it, but then the other aspect we look at is this growing trend now [of English players departing to France].

"There are so many players - we're probably up to about eight recent internationals now - who have gone over to play in the Top 14 in the last couple of years. So it's this huge trend.

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The Times' Martyn Ziegler and Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail examine whether Farrell's move to Racing 92 could jeopardise his England chances

"You then have this conversation as to whether he [Farrell] will be eligible for the World Cup, because of this rule that they have to be playing over in England to be selected for England. What will it mean for the Lions?

"It opens up a huge number of questions, because we are talking about one of the great talents of English rugby. He's won everything, his impact has been absolutely enormous, and for him to be leaving English rugby really is a huge blow."

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Andy Farrell hastold Sky Sports 'there is no rule' which prohibits ineligible Test players from playing for the British & Irish Lions, opening the door for the likes of Henry Arundell, Joe Marchant, and potentially his son

Ziegler told Sky Sports News: "I think he's got a two-year deal with the option of a third, so yes he could be back for the World Cup in 2027, but that's a long time.

"Are England really going to do without him for two years, put in a successor and new pathway, and then go back to him? I can't see that happening.

"I think this is very much Owen Farrell saying, 'this is the end of my England career.'

"What happens with the Lions is, again, a big challenge. His dad is the head coach, which is tricky for him. Are you going to pick players - the likes of Henry Arundell too - for the Lions that aren't playing for their national team? That's a really big challenge for Andy Farrell."

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