Owen Farrell is a player that tends to split opinion and his response to the haka in Yokohama before England’s crunch semi-final with New Zealand did exactly that.
England formed a ‘V’ formation as the All Blacks performed the pre-match ritual, with referee Nigel Owens and other officials being forced to ask them to retreat behind the halfway line, a request that was largely ignored.
However, it was Farrell’s manic smile that was picked up by cameras and had tongues wagging on Twitter.
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 26, 2019
Most England fans were delighted with his facial expressions from the 28-year-old who was switched back to the centre by head coach Eddie Jones.
I will never not find New Zealand’s haka completely stupid. Glad Owen Farrell slipped out a sly smirk. #englandrugby
— Heather (@heatherdinho) October 26, 2019
Others were quick to pile into the England star, who became a father for the first time in March to son Tommy.
Does Owen Farrell know what smiling at the haka will mean for him later?
— Michéal Ó Cualáin (@michealoc) October 26, 2019
Whatever about Farrell’s response to the controversial traditional, England certainly came out of the blocks the faster, with Manu Tuilagi scoring the first try of the game after just 97 seconds.
Farrell is now in his 11th year of professional rugby. He held the record of youngest player ever to compete in English professional rugby union after playing for Saracens eleven days after his 17th birthday until it was later broken by George Ford.
He received his first England call-up when he was selected for the 2012 Six Nations. At 20, Farrell was the youngest player in the squad.
In 2017, the Wigan born-back became Saracens’ all-time leading points scorer having scored 1,548 points in his career at that point.
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