Rugby: England captain Owen Farrell risks international career, reportedly in talks with French giants Racing 92

Owen Farrell.
Owen Farrell. Photo credit: Getty Images

England captain Owen Farrell is talking to French club Racing 92 about joining them next season, Midi Olympique reported, potentially ending his international career after he decided to take a break this year for mental health reasons.

Sources close to the deal confirmed negotiations have been taking place, but Racing said nothing had been agreed.

"We deny any agreement regarding the English player Owen Farrell," the French club said.

Farrell, who has 112 England caps and was made skipper by former coach Eddie Jones, has been at London club Saracens since making his debut as a 17-year-old in 2008 but his current contract expires at the end of this season.

A move to the current Top 14 leaders, who recently signed South Africa's double World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi, would mean Farrell could not play for England under the RFU's rules agreed with the Premiership clubs.

England coach Steve Borthwick hopes Farrell, 32, will return to England, but that he respected the courage it took to walk away after last year's World Cup having reached the end of his tether with social media abuse.

"This is one of England's greatest-ever players, greatest-ever captains," Borthwick said.  

"Any team in the world would miss an Owen Farrell but the work he has done to help create a foundation over these last months, to help re-set the England team and move forward, that is part of his legacy through this (Six Nations) tournament."

With Courtney Lawes also retiring from internationals, Borthwick will announce a new captain this month when he names his squad for the Six Nations.

Other England internationals have opted to play in France, ruling themselves out of international selection, including exciting young winger Henry Arundell, centre Joe Marchant, lock Dave Ribbans and flanker Jack Willis.