England skipper Owen Farrell has given his take on having numerous fans barracking him at every opportunity on Friday night. It’s been a regular thing at the Rugby World Cup for the out-half to be booed when his name is read out pre-game over the PA system at the same time his picture appears on the stadium screen.
However, the heckling continued throughout the bronze medal final versus Argentina, a lack of popularity that Farrell tackled when quizzed in the wake of his team’s 26-23 Stade de France win.
Asked if he was shocked by the level of hostility, he said: “No, I am not surprised. It is usually like that here.
“When you play here in the Six Nations they don’t normally cheer you when you are having a shot at goal. It’s different here to England when a kicker is taking a shot. It’s just different, that’s all it is. That’s no problem.”
Victory over the Pumas left England finishing in third place at a 20-team tournament they came into with just one win in six matches prior to the finals and just three wins in nine outings in total under Steve Borthwick.
They will now depart France having won six of their seven games, their only loss coming in the agonising one-point semi-final defeat to South Africa last weekend.
That is quite the upturn in form but Farrell was unsure what needs to happen for England to enjoy a better World Cup cycle heading into Australia 2027 compared to their inconsistencies under previous boss Eddie Jones, who was let go by the RFU last December.
“It’s a tough question to answer,” he shrugged. “This team is going to be constantly evolving to get better. Steve is going to do a thorough review of what we need to do. I’m sure there will be a plan from the staff, but the players deal with what’s in front of them.
“The players will enjoy this win and go back to their clubs next week. The best thing the players can do for the next World Cup cycle is go and play well for their clubs and I’m sure the boys will do that.”
Farrell went on to pay tribute to Tom Curry, who won his 50th cap on Friday night, while Ben Youngs, the England men’s record caps holder, will now finish up at Test level after his 127th appearance.
“As we said during the week, this team wasn’t lacking in motivation, one of them being Tom’s 50th cap. He is a tremendous player, he leads massively by example.
“I have heard Steve say before that his output in games is phenomenal. For him to be at 50 caps already, the way he plays the game is outstanding and I can only see him getting better.”
Switching to Youngs, he added: “Anybody who is a men’s England record cap holder has obviously had a big impact on English rugby.
“To be around as long as he has and to stay playing top international rugby for as long as Ben has… there is a lot of work that goes into that.”
“You only get to do that if you work hard and you get along with people and have a big impact. Ben has done that.”