Owen Farrell to miss Six Nations as he announces England break to 'prioritise mental wellbeing'

Owen Farrell will miss the 2024 Six Nations (Getty Images)
Owen Farrell will miss the 2024 Six Nations (Getty Images)

Owen Farrell will miss the Six Nations after opting to take a break from Test rugby.

The 32-year-old became England’s record points-scorer in leading Steve Borthwick’s side to a third-place finish at the Rugby World Cup in France.

But now the 112-cap talisman will take no part in the 2024 Six Nations, opting to "prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing".

Farrell was subjected to regular online abuse during the World Cup, with England regularly lamenting the social media criticism copped by their captain.

Now the Saracens star has opted to take a break from Test rugby, and has been given the full backing of England head coach Steve Borthwick in that decision.

Owen Farrell led England to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals (PA)
Owen Farrell led England to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals (PA)

“Owen Farrell has decided to take a break from international rugby in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being," Saracens said in a statement.

“This means he will not be available for selection for the 2024 Six Nations. He will continue to play for Saracens and captain the club. As always Owen will have the full support of everyone at the club.”

England will now need not just a few fly-half but also a new captain for next year’s Six Nations.

Sale’s George Ford and Harlequins’ Marcus Smith will now battle it out for the No10 role at February's tournament, with Northampton’s Fin Smith pushing hard for inclusion in the squad.

Farrell’s absence will prove a blow to boss Borthwick, who will be looking to build on that third-place World Cup finish. Borthwick has thrown his full support behind Farrell’s decision, having been outwardly frustrated and upset by online criticism of his captain during the World Cup.

England will clearly hope Farrell can return refreshed and reinvigorated after the Six Nations break. The Red Rose stalwart only insisted last week that he would look to extend his England career as long as possible, with one eye at least on the 2027 World Cup.

A stint out of frontline Test action will doubtless help extend Farrell’s international career, but will also deplete England in the short-term.

Ellis Genge and Ford acted as vice-captains during the World Cup, and both men will come squarely into the frame to lead England next year.

“Everyone at England Rugby is fully behind Owen’s decision,” said England boss Borthwick.

“Since making his debut, he has been an integral part of the England set-up for more than a decade and the demands on elite athletes are extremely challenging.

“He is an exemplary player, captain and leader and always gives his all for his country. It is with typical courage that Owen has made this decision to open up in this manner.

“Together with all of us at England Rugby, I will do everything I can to ensure that he has the support he requires going forward.”