Rugby condemns ‘disgusting’ abuse as England star to take mental health break and miss Six Nations

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has criticised the “shameful” treatment of Owen Farrell after the England fly-half opted to take a break from international rugby for mental health reasons.

February marks the start of the Six Nations, and Farrell has decided to skip it “in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing.”

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The surprising choice was made after the 32-year-old captained England to a third-place result in the most recent World Cup, where his team was defeated by eventual winners South Africa in the semi-finals.

Long a source of controversy for some rugby fans, Farrell was sent off in a warm-up match against Wales, earning him a four-match ban that prevented him from playing in England’s first two matches in the championship in France.

During the World Cup, he faced criticism on social media and occasional jeers from some sections of the audience.

Despite the criticism Farrell was receiving, McCall expressed his admiration for his efforts; in France, the fly-half set a new record for England’s highest point scorer.

“Considering how he was feeling, it’s amazing that he performed the way he did during the World Cup,” the Saracens manager remarked.

“Although he and his family have been made to feel this way, he is an extremely talented individual right now. It is deplorable. It’s incorrect,” he declared.

Farrell will miss the Six Nations. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

“I’ve worked with Owen for fifteen years, on a daily basis, and the person I know is nothing like the one that the media has represented. His family has always come first; he is a family man.

A storyline was developed and launched, and it has existed for a while. One can only handle so much at a time. Former England captain Bill Beaumont, the chairman of World Rugby, expressed his hope that Farrell can rejoin the national team “reinvigorated.”

Beaumont told the BBC that he would never want to live in a society where a someone like Owen Farrell, who has done so much for rugby, gets jeered when he is representing his nation.


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