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It's 16 years ago today since Andy Farrell swapped rugby league for union and signed for Saracens

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell switched codes to union and signed for Saracens on this day in 2005. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Farrell’s three-year contract with Saracens, with league great Farrell crossing the divide to rugby union.


Farrell had enjoyed 13 heavily-decorated years at Wigan, winning 34 caps for Britain and eleven for England.

“Andrew is an outstanding player who has been a superb ambassador for rugby league on and off the field and we believe that he will do the same in rugby union,” said RFU chief executive Francis Baron. “Wigan and Saracens have been very co-operative and I’d like to thank them for all their help over the last few weeks.”

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Former Ireland and Lions back-rower Stephen Ferris guests on RugbyPass All Access
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Former Ireland and Lions back-rower Stephen Ferris guests on RugbyPass All Access

A string of injuries delayed a Saracens debut for Farrell until 2006 but he then went on to make his England bow in the 2007 Six Nations. Injuries continued to hamper Farrell at every turn and he only managed eight Test caps but did go to the 2007 World Cup where England were beaten finalists.

A successful coaching career quickly followed, however, with Farrell impressing with Saracens as an assistant before joining England’s backroom staff in 2012.

Farrell helped the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 but would lose his job with England after the 2015 World Cup, where head coach Stuart Lancaster’s side became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history.


Farrell then became the Ireland defence coach in 2016 before succeeding Joe Schmidt as head coach following the 2019 World Cup in Japan. His most recent match was last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations round five win over England in Dublin. It has left him with a record of nine wins from 14 matches in charge and he is likely to be involved in the upcoming Lions tour if Ireland’s southern hemisphere touring plans are shelved.


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