England captain Owen Farrell has yet again been the target of a barrage from Ireland’s most controversial rugby pundit – Neil Francis.


The long retired Ireland international says that Farrell’s behaviour as England captain has set the tone for the rest of his team.

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This fresh attack comes just a week after the former second row called for Manu Tuilagi to be banned for life for his KO tackle on George North in the Six Nations.

Writing in the Sunday Independent Francis wants World Rugby to come down hard on Owen Farrell and people who behave like him.

“When the person charged with ensuring discipline and rugby ethics is the one subverting it, well then where are you?” writes Francis.


“I don’t know Owen Farrell and our paths have never crossed. By accounts, he is not a bad fella off the pitch – but on it…”

“You do get the impression that if the captain is behaving badly then it’s OK for everyone to do it.”

“You get the sense of something about England. A tipping point is not far away.”

Francis also takes Eddie Jones to task for not stamping out the behaviour, which he argues sanctions it.


“How many bad guys do they have in their team? Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Ellis Genge, Courtney Lawes, Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi – that is quite the quorum. Farrell’s predecessor as captain, Dylan Hartley, was another beauty.

“It is about riding the line – it is fine and fair to bring an edge and be as competitive as you can be, but when you step over the line and do it consistently there have to be heavy sanctions and eventually non-selection… unless the guy in charge sees nothing wrong with it.

“While the rugby world sleeps, maybe its masters might draw up a new charter on dealing with poor behaviour before it becomes the new normal.”

Francis is infamous for his column. Following the Rugby World Cup he suggested putting an asterisk beside the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup win due to the proliferation of steroids in South Africa.

He also famously branded the Leinster team of the early noughties ‘ladyboys’ and once suggested former Wales and Lions head coach Warren Gatland had the “intellectual properties of a tub of flora”.

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