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‘To win a Grand Slam is special’ – Owen Farrell on dad Andy’s ‘tough achievement’


Owen Farrell talks to referee Jaco Peyper during the defeat to Ireland. Image: Sportsfile.

Owen Farrell talks to referee Jaco Peyper during the defeat to Ireland. Image: Sportsfile.

Owen Farrell talks to referee Jaco Peyper during the defeat to Ireland. Image: Sportsfile.

England captain Owen Farrell hailed his dad Andy’s ‘special achievement’ in leading Ireland to a stunning Grand Slam.

Owen had only briefly caught up with Andy by the time he spoke at the post-match press conference, but he said he would have a proper debrief with his dad later tonight.

Owen, a Grand Slam winner himself in 2016, pointed to how tough it is to win all five Six Nations en route to the title.

“I mean, to win a Grand Slam is special, yeah. The lads who were here the last time we did that know it. It’s a tough achievement.

“I think anybody that’s not just won a Six Nations, but a Grand Slam, it’s a special achievement.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick heaped praise on his former team-mate Farrell, who he also coached alongside.

“I had the pleasure of coaching alongside Andy with the Lions in 2017. I think he is a magnificent coach," Borthwick said.

“I was also coached by him when I was a player at Saracens. I think you can see that he is an incredible coach. You see it’s a team packed full of talent.

“They’re the best in the world and they have set a benchmark. We found ourselves short today, where they are. Our job is to find a way of getting to compete close and win games like that.”

Borthwick was gracious in defeat, as he had no qualms about admitting that Ireland were fully deserving of their fourth Grand Slam.

“They are a magnificent Ireland team,” he said.

“You see how they have built over this World Cup cycle to a team that’s performed really well through this Six Nations.

“We came here believing we could win the game and I think the team fought incredibly hard but unfortunately we fell short and we’re disappointed with the result.”

Borthwick was asked several times for his thoughts on Freddie Steward’s controversial red card, but he opted against using it as an excuse for his side’s defeat.

“To be honest, my thinking was more about the red card, we’re down to 14 men, what’s the significance, what do we need to do from a tactical adjustment point of view," the England boss maintained.

“Whenever a referee goes through a disciplinary process like that, I’m thinking as a coach, ‘Right, if he goes this way, what’s the significance?’ That’s where my head turned.

“I thought the players adapted to the situation incredibly well. Clearly, that was against the number one side in the world, and eventually the space became apparent, especially when down to 13 men.

“The fatigue took its toll eventually but I thought the players adapted incredibly well to going to 14 men.”

Owen Farrell was less blunt in his assessment of Steward’s collision with Hugo Keenan that forced the Ireland full-back off with a head injury that he did not return from.

“I was surprised (it was a red card), if I’m honest,” Farrell said.

“But it’s not up to us. We don’t make the rules. We don’t put them in place. We don’t hear what goes on with the ref mic and the process that they go through. That’s the decision they came to and we have to accept it.

“I thought the game was a brilliant contest, I thought it was a brilliant Test match,” Farrell added.

“The way that we reacted after we got that red card was very good. I thought we fought for each other and unfortunately we didn’t get on the right side of the result, which is very disappointing in an England shirt.”

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