Paul Grayson column: Why family ties will count for nothing in Clash of Farrells

It is billed as the Clash of the Farrells and few will argue with that.

The playmaker and captain of England pitting his wits against the head coach of Ireland is a brilliant storyline and one you rarely encounter at the top level of sport.

How relevant it is to the outcome of tomorrow’s contest is another matter. George Ford said yesterday that the one time he played against a team coached by his dad, Mike, the only person who found it difficult was his mum.

She didn’t come to the game. She didn’t know who she wanted to win. For her the sooner it was over the better.

Like father like son: Northampton fly-half James Grayson (above) and World Cup-winning dad Paul (below)

As father of a son playing professional rugby I get that completely. James plays for Northampton and I coach him at Saints two to three times a week.

I’m immensely proud that he’s putting himself out there, trying to live his dream. Like Mike and Andy, I don’t love my son any more or less whether he wins or loses.

When they are growing up you don’t let them win anything until they’re good enough to, so you know that having got where they have they are equipped to deal with it. One of the strengths of sports people is being able to compartmentalise stuff, emotion being one of those.

Paul Grayson comes in association with cinch

For that reason I would have absolutely no qualms coaching against James. It would be fun. not awkward, a great conversation to have round the dinner table.

As a cold-eyed coach devising a gameplan to beat England, Andy will know that going after Owen is not the answer because the more fire that comes his way generally the more he stands up.

He would be an absolute fool to let any emotion come into play in how you try and dissect an England team at Twickenham. And Andy Farrell is no fool.

Owen and Andy Farrell at training on 2017 Lions tour (above) and celebrating a Calcutta Cup triumph with England in 2012

My hunch is that Ireland are significantly the more settled team and, as such, the more likely to win. Before you ask, the  antics of Eddie Jones are not factored into that thinking.

Whereas he gave France ammunition before the Paris match, his clumsy race-related remark this week has not given Ireland anything – only taken a chunk out of himself.

His coaching message won’t have been diluted by that but I do think somebody in a senior position at the RFU should advise him from now on to stick to rugby matters.

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