It’s the topic that is repeatedly very awkward for England skipper Owen Farrell – talk about your dad, the Ireland coach Andy Farrell, in public. Son and father used to work together at Saracens and England, but they have mostly been on different career trajectories since the disastrous 2015 World Cup.
Unwanted by incoming England boss Eddie Jones, Farrell Snr was snapped up by Ireland as their defence coach under Joe Schmidt and his responsibilities have since taken on a different hue. Farrell took charge of the whole shooing match at the top of the year, a development that has added a new layer to the intrigue surrounding the Farrells.
Lions tour 2017 was the last time there were operating on the same side but they are due a catch-up this Saturday when England host Ireland in the Autumn Nations Cup at Twickenham, the first time they will have seen each other in nine weeks.
That September 19 day in Dublin, Owen was seen approaching the VIP seats at the Aviva Stadium for a socially distanced chat with dad prior to Saracens defeating Leinster in a Champions Cup quarter-final, a match that the London club’s out-half was suspended for following a Premiership red card.
Two months on, their paths will now cross again during Saturday’s pre-game warm-up, but getting a handle on the dynamic between the pair remains impossible to gauge, so guarded is Owen when it comes to talking about his father.
Seconds out for latest round of Stander vs Farrell https://t.co/A4WAjAaqpD
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 18, 2020
There were four questions put to him at his Thursday media conference and every short answer highlighted how it’s a topic that remains off public limits. Initially asked that it must be a while since he had seen Andy, he replied: “I have to book in with him now (over Zoom). Obviously, I have not seen him for a long time but obviously still speak as anyone would do with family.”
Does Owen understand the pressure dad now faces being a head coach? “Yeah, obviously, that’s normally where the opportunity is, that’s normally where the good stuff comes. I’m excited for him.”
Has he noticed a change in Farrell’s Ireland compared to Schmidt’s Ireland? “You’re probably better off asking someone within the (Ireland) camp. Obviously, he is putting his own stamp on it a bit with obviously a lot that has been learnt while being involved with Ireland before he took over. I guess it’s hoping that it’s a progression.”
And about dad getting that top job with the Irish? “Yeah, yeah. Obviously, it’s a step up but it’s something that he has always wanted and it’s good that he has got this opportunity now.”
Five obviouslys and little real insight… for sure, it’s remains an awkward topic for the England captain to be open about.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 19, 2020
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