England in SA
Andy Farrel quits Saracens
Andy Farrell (Gallo Images)
London - Andy Farrell has resigned from the coaching staff of Saracens, the Premiership club announced Friday, leading to speculation he could be about to rejoin the set-up of England boss Stuart Lancaster.
Former dual code international Farrell, whose son Owen is the current England rugby union outside-half, was brought on board by then acting head coach Lancaster for a Six Nations campaign where England finished runners-up to champions Wales.
Lancaster made it clear he wanted both backs coach Farrell and forwards chief Graham Rowntree to stay with England.
However, while Rowntree was with Lancaster -- now confirmed as England head coach -- when the squad arrived in South Africa on Thursday for a three-Test series against the Springboks, it was former England back Mike Catt who, on a temporary basis, was filling Farrell's old job.
Unlike Rowntree, who was already a member of England's staff when Lancaster was asked to take caretaker charge following Martin Johnson's post-World Cup resignation, Farrell had only been seconded to England by Saracens for the duration of the Six Nations.
At that stage Saracens were the reigning English champions -- London rivals Harlequins won this season's Premiership title -- and, after the Six Nations, Farrell said he wanted to stay with Sarries.
"It has been a special privilege for me to be involved in the Saracens coaching staff for the past two-and-half seasons," Farrell said in April.
"The job isn't anywhere near half done, and I have decided I want to help finish the job."
Saracens, in a statement issued Friday, said the 37-year-old Farrell's resignation, with two years of his contract remaining, was a "surprise". The club added that Kevin Sorrell, their former centre, would be their new backs coach.
"We are sorry to see Andy leave, and we wish him well in the future," said Saracens chairman Nigel Wray.
Meanwhile Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said of Sorrell's appointment: "Kevin is making a swift and successful transition from outstanding player to outstanding coach.
"He is Saracens through and through, and we are delighted he has agreed to take up this important post."
England's governing Rugby Football Union insisted via Twitter there would be no immediate change to Lancaster's coaching set-up, saying: "Lancaster confirms he has not spoken to Andy Farrell and there will no changes to his coaching set-up for South Africa tour."