On this day in 2005: Wigan’s Andy Farrell switches codes with Saracens

Andy Farrell, PA Images.

Picture by John Walton/EMPICS Sport.

Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell switched codes to union and signed for Saracens on this day, March 23, in 2005.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Farrell’s three-year contract with Sarries.

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

Farrell made his Wigan debut at the age of just 16 after signing with the club from Orrell St James ARLFC. He went on to make 370 appearances between 1991 and 2004.

He was named in the inaugural Super League Dream Team in 1996 at loose forward. The forward won six League Championships, four Challenge Cups, one World Club Challenge and four Premiership Trophies with Wigan.

Farrell also won the Man of Steel Award twice and the Golden Boot in his final year at the Warriors. 

“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.

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

More on Andy Farrell

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

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

A successful coaching career followed, 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 lost his England job after the 2015 World Cup, where head coach Stuart Lancaster’s side became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history.

The 46-year-old became Ireland defence coach in 2016.

He succeeded Joe Schmidt as head coach following the 2019 World Cup and on Saturday won his first silverware in the role as Ireland won the Six Nations title with victory over England to complete the Grand Slam.

READ NEXT: The players to have worn Wigan’s famous number 13 shirt