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Dave Attwood explains why Owen Farrell 'hates me with a passion'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ex-England lock Dave Attwood has explained why Owen Farrell is the player who most winds him up on the rugby pitch. The pair were Test squad teammates during both the Stuart Lancaster and Eddie Jones eras and it was during the time when Owen’s dad Andy was assisting Lancaster from 2012 to 2015 that the second row had an overseas post-game run-in with the out-half and their relationship deteriorated from there.

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With Attwood’s England career ending with his final cap in November 2016, his friction with Farrell has since been confined to matches versus Saracens, a rivalry that will continue next season when the 35-year-old forward makes the Gallagher Premiership switch from Bristol to Bath.

In the meantime, Attwood has opened up on the latest RugbyPass Offload and explained why Farrell gets under his skin so much, a friction that dates back to when he lightheartedly ridiculed rugby league but the half-back didn’t see the funny side of that.

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Dave Attwood on bust ups with Owen Farrell, Sam Burgess & new Bath era | RugbyPass Offload | EP 35
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Dave Attwood on bust ups with Owen Farrell, Sam Burgess & new Bath era | RugbyPass Offload | EP 35

“On the pitch, I struggle a lot with Owen Farrell. We just don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things,” said Attwood when asked which player always winds him up. “He is the best ten in the world, he is incredibly good, I have got enormous respect for him as a player but I get very frustrated with him watching him as a player, playing against him.

“He hates me with a passion. Despite my earthy roots, he thinks I am a posh c***. He hates that. I bagged rugby league once jovially. I was saying it to take the piss kind of thing, ‘a bloody sport for the peasants’. He f**kin’ hated it and out in Italy or maybe France he fully lost the plot. He had a bit of a shout at me and went off to the toilet and I followed him.

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“We all had a drink or two after the game but we didn’t need to get carried away with this. I was in the urinal behind the door and he was three or four down and as I got in his dad walked in as well, he was coaching at the time. He was, ‘I don’t want to fuckin’ hear it’ or something like that and as he walked out he went to open the door and slam it into the back of me. There was like a stop on the floor so it hit the stop and almost clocked him back…

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“We never really addressed it after that. That was where it started and it was like a drunken little bit of argy that went too far. He is an incredibly competitive athlete and he is also very f**kin’ good, he has got high standards. He is a very competitive athlete and in order to be that good, you have to flirt on the wrong side of competitive.

“So whenever we play each other there is always some element in the game where one of us is running at the other one or we are trying to bang each other. There always seems to be an element of that to it. I am sure he is like, I don’t even know that Dave is playing.”

Attwood added that Mike Brown, another former England teammate of his, is the other player who most winds him up. “Mike Brown is the other one. On the field, you know what he is like. He is so passionately competitive that a lot of the time he is a knob and it is the same thing, he wants to win, he is desperate to win.

“There is one in every squad. Like, you’re playing touch rugby and someone is taking it a bit too seriously. I sometimes think that about rugby, obviously we all want to win but I still think there is a line where you can take things too far.”

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