On this day in 2005: Andy Farrell swaps league for union and signs for Saracens

PA Sport Staff
·1-min read

Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell switched codes to union and signed for Saracens on this day in 2005.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Farrell’s three-year contract with Saracens, with league great Farrell crossing the divide to rugby union.

Farrell had enjoyed 13 heavily-decorated years at Wigan, winning 34 caps for Great Britain and 11 for England.

“Andrew is an outstanding player who has been a superb ambassador for rugby league on and off the field and we believe that he will do the same in rugby union,” said RFU chief executive Francis Baron.

Rugby Union – IRB Rugby World Cup 2007 – Pool A – England v USA – Stade Felix Bollaert
Andy Farrell in Test action for the England rugby union side (David Davies/PA)

“Wigan and Saracens have been very co-operative and I’d like to thank them for all their help over the last few weeks.”

A string of injuries delayed Farrell’s Saracens debut until 2006, but he then went on to make his England bow in the 2007 Six Nations.

Injuries continued to hamper Farrell at every turn, and he only managed eight caps, but did go to the 2007 World Cup where England were beaten finalists.

A successful coaching career quickly followed, however, with Farrell impressing with Saracens before joining England’s backroom staff in 2012.

Farrell helped the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013, but would lose his job with England after the 2015 World Cup, where head coach Stuart Lancaster’s side became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history.

Farrell became Ireland defence coach in 2016, before succeeding Joe Schmidt as head coach following the 2019 World Cup in Japan.