Ahead of the 2019/20 Champions Cup, we dig through the archives to highlight a hero from a previous tournament. First up, Owen Farrell.
Owen Andrew Farrell was born in Billinge, Wigan, Lancashire on September 24, 1991. He is the son England Rugby League legend and newly appointed Ireland Rugby Union head coach Andy Farrell. With a Rugby League background, the younger Farrell started playing the 13-man code as a six-year-old for Wigan St Patricks but changed to Rugby Union when his father joined Saracens in 2005.
Like his father, he also joined Saracens and became the youngest player ever to appear in English professional Rugby Union when he represented the London-based club 11 days after his 17th birthday in an Anglo-Welsh Cup match against the Scarlets. After going on loan at Bedford during the 2010/11 season, the utility back returned to Saracens and played a leading role during the club’s 22-18 victory over Leicester Tigers in the 2011 Premiership Final at Twickenham. Since that triumph, Sarries have gone on to win the Premiership four more times and the Champions Cup on three occasions and Farrell has been one of their standout players each of those triumphs.
He made his Test debut for England as a 20-year-old in a Six Nations encounter against Scotland at inside centre in a hard-fought 13-6 triumph at Murrayfield in 2012. He has moved between that position and the fly-half berth in the international arena and later in 2012 he was a nominee for the World Rugby Player of the Year award but lost out to All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter.
In 2013, Farrell was selected for the British and Irish Lions squad on their tour to Australia and earned his first Lions Test cap during the series decider in Sydney which the touring team won 41-16. Farrell also played in all three Lions Tests during their 2017 tour of New Zealand and started at fly-half in the first Test before switching to inside centre for the remaining two Tests of the series which was drawn 1-1.
Since his Test debut, Farrell has grown into one of the stars of the global game and he captained England at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan where they finished as runners-up.
His rugby moment
The 2016 Champions Cup Final was played at the Grand Stade de Lyon between Saracens and Racing 92 and the English club were determined to secure victory as they lost to another French club, Toulon, in the 2014 final in Cardiff.
2016’s Champions Cup Final was a different matter though as Sarries dominated for long periods despite atrocious weather conditions with rain prominent throughout the game. Farrell was Saracens’ star as he took the fight to the Parisian club, who had All Blacks pivot Carter as his direct opponent. The Englishman would come out on top, however, and he laid down an early marker with a well-taken drop goal after 10 minutes.
He became involved in a goal-kicking duel with Racing’s outside centre, Johan Goosen, but Farrell held the edge throughout the game and Saracens were leading 12-6 when the teams changed sides at half-time. The second half continued in a similar vein with Farrell outshining Goosen off the kicking tee and he added three further penalties to Goosen’s one which meant the Premiership champions sealed a 21-9 triumph and, in doing so, they were crowned Champions Cup winners for the first time and Farrell was their hero as he scored all his side’s points.