Ex-England coach Clive Woodward has shared his perspective on the decision by Owen Farrell to withdraw himself from contention for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations campaign.
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Despite this, Farrell is set to maintain his pivotal role as a player and captain for Saracens.
The England rugby team’s skipper encountered substantial hurdles during the Rugby World Cup, with passionate fans from both England and rival nations directing intense hostility toward the fly-half in every match.
The tension reached a peak, resulting in Farrell facing loud boos whenever he appeared on the big screen or when his name was announced.
Woodward wrote in his column for the Mail Online: “For whatever reason, he has never had the praise he has deserved. In fact, he has ended up being criticised a lot – often personally and unjustly. I wonder whether that has had an impact…
“The subsequent targeting of him was way over the top and totally uncalled for. That was summed up when he was booed at the World Cup. For a player who has given so much, that was unforgivable.”
He added: “I hope, with the decision made and the outpouring of support he has received, Farrell can now look ahead with new-found freedom. I hope Farrell sets the tone and inspires new thinking in this area. Why is taking a sabbatical not more common?
“Let’s be brutally honest. There is nobody at the RFU who would have a clue how to help or advise Farrell when he needs it most. No doubt they will blame others – especially the media – and create another nameless committee to investigate and put forward their thoughts with zero accountability.
“Meanwhile, Farrell will probably be left to work it out for himself. That is so wrong. The RFU and other international sides should look at Farrell’s situation with real concern but as an opportunity to better support players. The world’s best businesses build sabbaticals into their HR processes as paid leave. Why not rugby?”
Contenders to replace Owen Farrell as captain
#1. Ellis Genge – Favourite
England’s head coach, Borthwick, has hinted at Ellis Genge, the front-rower, emerging as the next captain. Borthwick appointed Genge as the England vice-captain, and their successful collaboration in winning the Premiership with Leicester solidifies this choice for future success. Genge’s leadership potential looks bright, relying on his ongoing role as England’s primary player in the number one position.