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Test sabbatical over as Owen Farrell will take on France in June

By Liam Heagney
Owen Farrell at the Rugby World Cup with England last October (Photo by Franco Arland/Getty Images)

Owen Farrell will begin life after Saracens with a Spanish detour before he arrives at Racing 92 as he has been named to play for the World XV coached by Ian Foster in their June 22 match versus France in Bilbao.

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The former England skipper will hope his lengthy stint with his London club lasts as long as possible and only finishes with the June 8 Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham.

Saracens are currently third on the table with three rounds of regular season matches remaining, starting Friday night away to Bath.

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The 32-year-old announced a Test rugby sabbatical away from England duty following the completion of last year’s Rugby World Cup.

However, the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour hopeful is now poised to return to the international arena with an outing versus a French XV eight months after he led the English to a bronze medal final win over Argentina in Paris.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Bath
12 - 15
Full-time
Saracens
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His impending two-year switch to Racing will make him unavailable for an England recall due to the RFU’s rules governing player selection, but the match in Bilbao can serve as a reminder that Farrell still has what it takes to impress against Test-level opposition.

A statement read: “Bilbao-Bizkaia will once again become the epicentre of international rugby in southern Europe this summer. On June 22, the French national team will play a match at San Mames against a World XV team, a fixture that will kick off their summer tour to Argentina.

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“The World XV, led by the former All Blacks coach Ian Foster who will be assisted by Patrice Collazo, continues to recruit world-class stars of the game, and the latest to confirm his presence in the team is the English fly-half Owen Farrell.”

Farrell said: “The prospect of playing for the World XV is incredibly exciting. This will be the first time I will have played for an invitation team such as the World XV.

“Joining up with guys you normally line up against for club or country, such as Semi Radradra, Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, in a less pressurised environment is something I am really looking forward to.

“I am sure the players will want to get out there and play entertainingly and put on an amazing spectacle for the Basque and French people to experience.

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“No doubt the French team will also bring their notorious French flair come matchday too. It should be an awesome week and match in Bilbao.

“My dad Andy played for the World XV in 2006 and combining the history of the World XV with all the players that have represented the team with what will be a very fun week for me on a personal level will make the whole experience very special.”

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Foster added: “I am delighted Owen has made himself available to play for the World XV against France in Bilbao. Having a player of Owen’s ability, leadership and experience both at club level for Saracens and international level with England and the British and Irish Lions will be a massive asset to the World XV team.

“Owen has proven to be one of the most influential leaders in world rugby with outstanding contributions both on and off the pitch. Being in the World XV camp for the week will be no different, and I am sure he will be one of the key leaders in setting the tone and driving standards at training and on matchday too.”

  • Tickets are on sale through thematchrugby.com, with prices for adults from €35 and children up to 14 years old from €17.50. Discounts will apply for groups of more than 10 people. Tickets are also on sale at El Corte Ingles and www.marcaentradas.com
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