Owen Farrell says ‘the time feels right’ to leave Saracens for Racing 92

<span>Owen Farrell will be at Saracens until the end of the season and will aim to help them to secure more Premiership silverware.</span><span>Photograph: Ben Whitley/PA</span>
Owen Farrell will be at Saracens until the end of the season and will aim to help them to secure more Premiership silverware.Photograph: Ben Whitley/PA

Owen Farrell has insisted that “the time feels right” to swap England for France after breaking his silence on his move from Saracens to ­Racing 92 at the end of the season. Farrell ­conceded that it was a difficult decision to leave the club he joined 18 years ago but said he was excited by the move after Saracens finally ­confirmed his departure.

The move was announced by Racing in January but Saracens had not considered Farrell’s exit a done deal until they had received a compensation fee of around €500,000 (£428,000) for the 32‑year‑old fly‑half, who had a year remaining on his contract. Formalities have seemingly now been concluded, however, ensuring ­Farrell – who has signed a two-year deal with Racing – is officially unavailable for England selection until the middle of 2026 at the earliest because the Rugby Football Union does not allow Steve Borthwick to pick players based ­outside the country.

Related: Owen Farrell puts England on back burner to sign two-year Racing 92 deal

There will be a raft of players from Borthwick’s World Cup squad plying their trade in France next season but Farrell is by some distance the most high-profile. At Racing he joins up with compatriot Henry Arundell, as well as the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his England debut 12 years ago.

“It is tough to be leaving a place that has been my home since I was 14,” Farrell said. “This is where I’ve grown up, met a lot of my friends and of course started my family. It has been a difficult decision but it is an exciting one for our family. It has never been something we have thought about before, but for the first time ever we thought it would be good to go and experience something different, and the time feels right.

“I was nervous about having some conversations about bringing [the move] up and once we got into the conversations they were easy to have because of the calibre of the people here. Saracens is a very difficult place to leave. The club have been fan­tastic with us, and it really counts for ­something when they care about nothing but the person.

“I have loved everything about this place, the people especially, and I’ll always be ­thankful to the fans who support us every weekend. It has never been taken for granted ­playing for this club. Going into the back end of the year we are looking to make it the best we can, and I can’t wait to enjoy that over the coming months.”

In November, after a gruelling World Cup campaign during which Farrell was pilloried for a red card received in a warm-up match and booed by his own supporters in France, it was announced that he would be making himself unavailable for Borthwick’s side. The RFU said in a statement that Farrell had “decided to take a break from international rugby in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being”.

The Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall, said: “Owen joined Saracens at 14, and everyone at the club knows we have been privileged to work with a once-in-a-generation player. A fierce competitor on the field, a loving teammate and a family man off it, Owen has been the heartbeat of Saracens since his senior debut and central to all the club has achieved. We can’t wait for the next phase of this season with Owen and to see him enjoy the opportunity that is ahead of him. He will always be part of the Saracens family.”