England star Farrell rejects sour grapes jibe in ref row

EXCLUSIVE

ENGLAND No10 Owen Farrell has rejected accusations that his team’s complaints about referee Steve Walsh after their 30-3 defeat to Wales in the RBS Six Nations decider amounted to sour grapes.

Stuart Lancaster’s team conceded 12 penalties in the game, with several key calls going against the Red Rose front row.

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree was angered by the way Walsh handled the scrum and breakdown, but his intention to seek clarification from the International Rugby Board over Walsh’s performance was met with ridicule, with former Wales full-back JPR Williams accusing him of “sour grapes”.

However, Farrell insists there is no bitterness.

“We don’t feel hard done by, we were beaten by the better team on the day,” the 21-year-old told City A.M.

“You know what the penalty count is, but you just have to get on with it. At the time you don’t know what they’re all being given for. It wasn’t spoken about between the players afterwards.

“We need to make sure we are better because of it and you can tell all the lads can’t wait until we get back out on the pitch again.”

After such a strong start to the championship with the 38-18 victory over Scotland at Twickenham, England were accused of playing progressively worse throughout the tournament.

They scored one try in their final four matches but, despite England’s failure to secure the grand slam, Farrell believes the team has made great strides in the last 12 months.

“If you compare the team to last year I think we’ve come on leaps and bounds,” said Farrell, speaking at an RBS RugbyForce project at Eccles RFC coaching under-15s and under-16s.

“You never want to get beaten, but we’re going in the right direction. It’s important to learn from experience.”

Farrell and captain Chris Robshaw are the only English players to have been shortlisted for the RBS player of the championship award.

The Saracens man, who kicked 45 points in four matches, was nominated after being the most talked about player on social media.

However Farrell, who has more than 63,000 followers on Twitter, says he pays little attention to comments on the social networking site.

“I listen to people around me who matter, not the opinions of people who I don’t know,” he added.

“I don’t read too much of it. If it was getting too much I wouldn’t be on it.”

RBS RugbyForce is a nationwide community volunteer programme which helps local rugby clubs to improve their facilities, with the end goal of enabling grassroots clubs to become more sustainable. For more information go to www.rbs6nations.com /rugbyforce