North London rugby union outfit Saracens have provided the home for a number of stellar players over the years, but few have had the impact for club and country quite like Owen Farrell.
The fly half has guided Sarries to six Premiership Rugby titles, three European Champions Cups and, on international duty, passed, tackled and kicked England to three Six Nations crowns and the 2019 World Cup final.
Four years later, Farrell and his England teammates have a chance to go one better – and the 32-year-old could etch his name into the tournament’s folklore.
Points Make Prizes
The Rugby World Cup 2023 odds have been shaken up completely by the results of the quarter-final games, which saw hosts France dumped out and former tournament favourites Ireland also defeated. South Africa, who vanquished the French in a 29-28 epic, are the new market leaders at 10/11 with New Zealand, who broke Irish hearts, next best at 11/10.
England, to many, represent dangerous underdogs at 14/1, while others placing their rugby bets are keen to have Farrell onside in the Top Pointscorer category.
After the quarter-finals, Thomas Ramos led the way in that regard with 74, but he, of course, cannot add anymore to his tally given that France are out of the World Cup – the same goes for Johnny Sexton of Ireland, who sits second in the rankings with 58.
The brilliant back Damian McKenzie is next best at 53, and his New Zealand side will take on Argentina – the outsider of the four semi-finalists – in the first of the last four games.
Farrell, meanwhile, has contributed 44 points to England’s efforts so far, and he will get two more chances to add to his tally if he and his colleagues can get past defending champions South Africa in the second semi-final.
At odds of 1/6, the Springboks are a comfortable favourite to see off Steve Borthwick’s team, whose progress in the tournament in France has been mixed to say the very least.
But if they can keep things tight defensively and create penalty chances for the golden right boot of Farrell, perhaps England can serve up another underdog victory in a competition packed with shock results.
Pushing the Button
One of the interesting things about England’s progress in this World Cup is that they have reached the semi-finals without hitting top gear – certainly from an attacking perspective at least.
Only one Englishman has scored multiple tries in the tournament, which is a huge surprise when you consider the pace and power that Borthwick has to call upon. This may be Jonny May’s last World Cup at 33, but he retains a fleet of foot on one wing with the similarly speedy Elliot Daly thriving on the other flank.
The power of Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant in midfield adds another dimension to England’s attacking options, so it’s a surprise that they have leant so heavily on the boot of Farrell to put a winning score on the board.
Borthwick’s defence has passed relatively taxing examinations from Argentina and Fiji thus far, with South Africa of course providing an altogether sterner test in the last four. But if the forward unit continues to perform – and the head coach frees up his backs to play with more freedom – England could yet reach a second successive World Cup final.