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Owen Farrell 'very close' to signing two-year Racing 92 deal – report

By Liam Heagney
Owen Farrell in action for England (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Hopes that Owen Farrell will return to the international fold with England later this year are reportedly poised to be dashed by him committing to a two-year deal to play his club rugby in the French Top 14.

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The Test-level skipper has taken a sabbatical from Steve Borthwick’s squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations tournament.

However, on foot of Borthwick explaining on Thursday at Twickenham why the Test break for Farrell had come about, it has now emerged that the 32-year-old could soon make himself ineligible for an England comeback.

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Jacques Nienaber on evolution and why he left international rugby

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Rather than stay on at Saracens for the 2024/25 season, Midi Olympique, the French rugby newspaper, have reported that Farrell is considering a deal to quit Mark McCall’s side and instead join ex-England boss Stuart Lancaster at Racing 92.

Farrell is out of contract at the end of the 2023/24 season with the London club that he has represented for his entire professional career.

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Lancaster joined Racing last summer from Leinster and the coach is now looking for Farrell to join a club that already has the Rugby World Cup-winning Siya Kolisi on its roster along with Henry Arundell, one of Farrell’s England teammates at France 2023.

The Midi Olympique report read: “Racing 92 are on the verge of hitting hard in the transfer market. According to our sources, England fly-half Owen Farrell would indeed be very close to committing for the next two years with the Hauts-de-Seine entity, the current leader of the Top 14.

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“With a profile like Farrell’s, the club of Jacky Lorenzetti and Laurent Travers proves, only a few months after signing the captain of the South African Siya Kolisi, that it remains attractive to say the least in the eyes of the big names of the international circuit.

“In support of Antoine Gibert, Tristan Tedder and Martin Meliande, and alongside Nolann Le Garrec at the back, Farrell (32 years old, 112 caps and 1,237 points scored with England) will bring a little more depth to a team whose last major title dates back to the spring of 2016.

“By grafting the talent of Owen Farrell to his squad, manager Stuart Lancaster is now taking advantage of the events, assumed or suffered, that have made the news of the Ile-de-France club over the past two seasons.

“In the Hauts-de-Seine, the departure to Bath of Finn Russell, one of the highest-paid players in the last Top 14, has already made a considerable place in the club’s wage bill, as has the unwanted one of Virimi Vakatawa in England (he now plays for Bristol).

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“And that’s not all: in the 92nd, the probable career end of the French international Bernard Le Roux, victim of a series of concussions, combined with the possible departure of the Argentine international Juan Imhoff (35 years old) as well as the recruitment of several players in the process of development (the Clermont hooker Robin Couly, for example) have also allowed the Ile-de-France leaders to limit a salary cap set at €10.7million per Top 14 club.

“On the subject of the salary cap and these honourable constraints, it should be noted, finally, that Siya Kolisi’s remuneration would not exceed €400,000 per year.

“At a time when competition from the Japanese League One is becoming more insistent, Farrell’s imminent arrival in the Top 14 proves that it is still very far from having given up its title of ‘best league in the world’.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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