England's Red Rose: Owen Farrell
Owen a 25 year old from the Northwest of England is currently one of the best players in world who is having a fantastic career for England Rugby so far & who is only getting better and has chances of being named the Lions Rugby Captain.
At Twickenham on Sunday Farrell is set to win his 50th cap. Already to his name are 562 points, more than any player in history for England, save for Jonny Wilkinson. He is a Lion, a two-time World Player of the Year nominee and England vice-captain. (Alex Spink, England Rugby, 2017) As well as winning the English Premiership & European championship.
But why is this? What make Owen different & stand out over other players.
Sir Clive Woodaward (2017) believes that 'The warrior competitor in him was always admired'. Stuart Lancaster (2012) was immediately impressed with Farrell's temperament and his "warrior spirit", even when his form appeared to dip on the summer tour.
The Warrior Spirit is a player who “Exhibits controlled emotions and clear decision making in times of chaos and pressure; who can continue to improve and master the art of technical ability and tactical understanding; who can fight through any challenge and hardship physiologically and psychologically; who encompasses and demonstrates selflessness and humility.” (Chadwick, 2013).
A big part of England’s success over the past 16 games could be down to players like Owen. Lancaster in 2012 stated ‘I need players with internal drive and that warrior spirit that shows itself on the pitch when things get tough. If you’ve got that, the score will take care of itself.” (Lancaster, 2012)
This internal drive that Lancaster talks about is becoming more and more prominent and clear about Owen in other ‘ I’t becomes clear how a concentrated ambition beats even more strongly inside him (McRae, 2016)
Owen also has an ‘always gaining mindset’ (The Rugby Advantage, 2014) A person with an ‘Always Gaining’ mindset is someone who demonstrates continuous development of themselves in every aspect of their life. They take every situation they find themselves in as an opportunity to gain an advantage from something or someone which then allows them to grow and improve their learning, skills, knowledge and experience.
This is obvious to see Farrell’s need to develop as in an interview in The Guardian said this about Farrell:
“It resonates so often that I count 16 separate occasions when Farrell uses the words “improve”, “improving” and “improvement”, or the short phrase of “get better”.
‘It’s about me trying to be a better me’
‘If you’re not growing with rugby you get left behind’
“All we’ve ever tried to do is get better”
“We know what we’re good at but we want to improve in every area of the game.
“We must build on what we have already and move on. If you stand still in this sport you are really taking a step backwards”
"You have to keep improving all the time"
“Owen spends hours and hours training, playing and watching tapes to make himself better. He has a constant desire and need to improve."
Just like in the Tom Brady piece the Definition of Warrior Spirit has been broken down in to four areas:
Exhibits controlled emotions and clear decision making in times of chaos and pressure
There was also a telling moment when he got absolutely destroyed by a monster tackle from Ross Moriarty. It was probably slightly late as well, but Farrell did not let it bother him. He did not go seeking revenge or get all riled up like he used to. Because he has this stubborn winning mindset now, he can take that all on the chin. (Healey, 2017)
Watch here at 1:02:27 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYMSac_9uuM
2. who can continue to improve and master the art of technical ability and tactical understanding
That pass to set up Elliot Daly’s try against Wales was a work of art.
Watch here at 1:40:51 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYMSac_9uuM
Here he has just caught the ball and is running full speed to take up ground. Notice the time on the clock. 75:22 - so not only is this in the 75th minute of the game he is also running full pace into the space.
In this image again notice the time on the clock 75:23, he has covered about 10 meters of space in about a second so this is evidence he is at top speed. He sees his support player in space and what is required is a perfect long pass at top speed where his team mate doesn't change his stride or speed (His team mate is running towards the outside also making the pas that much more difficult). One inch in front or behind that this speed the pass becomes ineffective.
The final part of the pass is perfect. The catcher catches and it is clear the see the ball was going to hit the outside shoulder of the support player.
3. who can fight through any challenge and hardship physiologically and psychologically
His will to fight and to mentally get through hardships and setbacks is also apparent
"Owen is as tough mentally as he is physically."
"That makes us want to play for each other and want to fight for each other. On top of that he's brought a lot back about what the shirt means for us."
4. who encompasses and demonstrates selflessness and humility
"Farrell loathes talking about himself. If he could walk five yards over broken glass rather than open himself up to interrogation I don’t doubt for one second that he would."
(Alex Spink, England Rugby, 2017)
and to what is this gesture when Farrell scores a try?
The answer is as heartwarming as Farrell is prolific on the pitch: the celebration, which involves linking the index finger of each hand, is a tribute to his biggest fan, little Jack Johnson.
Jack, aged six and rugby-mad, suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a debilitating muscle-wasting disorder which leaves him unable to walk. As Jack gets older his condition will worsen and worsen - and there is no cure.
Farrell heard about Jack because their fathers both used to play together at Wigan. The Saracens back was touched and decided to begin dedicating every point he scored to raising awareness about Jack and DMD. (Express, 2017)
In summary Owen is a class act who is only getting better and a great role model for any player who wants to make it to the next level.