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Home comforts for England stars

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Simon Austin | 16:35 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

James Haskell has the self-confident air of someone who expects things to always turn out his way in the end.

And who can blame him? The Wasps flanker is young and good looking, his girlfriend Felicia Field-Hall was a finalist in FHM's "High Street Honeys" competition and, oh yes, he is one of England's finest young rugby players.

Last February, at a time when Haskell had won only five caps, Will Greenwood said the back rower should be given the England captaincy. "Right now he is England's youngest, most dynamic, game-changing player," the World Cup-winner reasoned.

Yet the 23-year-old now seems to have boxed himself into something of a corner by signing a pre-contract agreement with Stade Francais.

If Haskell was in any doubt about the possible effect this might have on his place in the England team, he isn't now.

He was dropped for the game against France last weekend and his replacement Tom Croft gave a Man-of-the-Match performance in England's best performance under manager Martin Johnson, so it is hardly a surprise that Haskell is again on the bench for England's Six Nations denouement against Scotland on Saturday.

James Haskell

While moving to France wasn't necessarily the reason for Haskell's omission, it certainly didn't help his cause.

Last week a letter signed by RFU chief executive Francis Baron was sent to each member of Martin Johnson's elite squad.

It made it clear that players moving abroad should, at least, make sure they had the same release dates in their contracts as players plying their trade in England. Otherwise their international prospects would be jeopardised.

It also stated that neither Johnson nor his coaching staff would be able to scout foreign club matches.

And players have been told verbally that if they move abroad and are vying for a place with an English-based player of the same ability, they will not be selected for England.

Haskell already had an idea about what was coming after discussing the issue at length with Baron at the official dinner after England's defeat against Ireland.
And he is now, unsurprisingly, reconsidering his move to Stade.

If he wants to back out, he is likely to have to pay money to the French side because he has signed a pre-contract agreement with them and, despite his undoubted ability, he could potentially find it difficult to find a place at a top club in England.

Most of the Guinness Premiership sides have already settled on their lineups for next season. Even last month, players' union chief Damian Hopley said "most recruitment in the Guinness Premiership has already been finalised" when he was discussing Saracens' decision to release 12 players.

Riki Flutey, who has agreed a move to Brive at the end of the season, has continued to be picked at inside centre by England, because of his outstanding recent performances for his country and the lack of alternatives in his position.

The other member of the Wasps and England trio to be crossing the channel, Tom Palmer, has not got a look in because Steve Borthwick, Simon Shaw and Nick Kennedy are ahead of him in the second-row pecking order.

There was news of another big-name player crossing the Channel this week, but it was in the opposite direction to Haskell, Palmer and Flutey.

Ben Cohen will move from Brive to Sale at the end of the season and is looking forward to trying to resurrect his England career.

His team-mate at the French side, the World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, is also a little frustrated at continually being overlooked for selection in the England squad, while flanker Magnus Lund seems to have been virtually forgotten since moving to Biarritz.

And Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates today said he assumed Jonny Wilkinson will still be at the club next season, despite interest from French sides.
Could the RFU now be winning its battle against a French exodus?

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:36pm on 18 Mar 2009, welshrunningmaggot wrote:

    Surely in the premiership the English must have strength in depth to cover the possible losses of players who are going off to France to play. You can't blame the players, I don't believe in the 'lifestyle change etc' but I think it comes down to money. Taking into account that a players career is very short compared to the normal working man they need to make as much as possible. I hope Haskell gets plenty of game time in France, if not then he has definately made the wrong decision.

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  • 2. At 6:45pm on 18 Mar 2009, Stomalomalus wrote:

    "The Wasps flanker is young and good looking" Eh? "he is one of England's finest young rugby players." Eh?

    Why are the press going on that Haskell was dropped because of his signing for Stade? The simple fact is that he does not contribute to Englands game - only to the penalty count - and that was wwhy he was dropped. Haskell is arrogant and plays only for himself, and until he realises that he is NOT one of the best back rowers in the Northern Hemisphere - never mind the best in the world - he should be nowhere near an England shirt.

    As for players moving to France, I think you can see that those making the move are players whom at the time of moving were not in the reckoning for an England slot. Except Haskell and Flutey. Flutey is 29 and is only seen as a short term measure in the England setup. This "exodus" never even started. It was only players leaving Wasps because the team wasn't being successful, and the other GP teams not wanting them - probably with the exception of Flutey.

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  • 3. At 6:46pm on 18 Mar 2009, David Kerr wrote:

    Seems to me like the RFU are adopting the same attitude as the Irish, Scottish and Welsh equivalents have by this letter. The letter makes it clear that players wouldn't be banned, it's just explaining the bare fact that if you play abroad you risk being 'out of sight, out of mind'. If it encourages England's best players to stay at home that's fair enough, I'm certainly pleased (from a Scottish fan's point of view) to see the Evans brothers have recently elected to stay in Scotland.

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  • 4. At 7:29pm on 18 Mar 2009, driffield-white wrote:

    The RFU should be ashamed. It is their job to get the best XV on the park for England, not to dictate where those players play their club rugby.

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  • 5. At 7:33pm on 18 Mar 2009, TreOes wrote:

    Yes, Yes, and Yes... If the RFU are bunging you millions of pounds, it has a right to say where and how that money is spent..

    What is this Damien Hopley aka Arthur Scargill..
    I quote. "We are taking legal advice.

    "The concern is that this becomes a restraint of trade."

    No it is merely a condition on you just pocketing inflated wages, to travel hither and thither.

    Has Mr Hopley, "heard of conditions of contract".

    Or is he firmly in the court of the Englich football unions....?

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  • 6. At 7:36pm on 18 Mar 2009, vinotackler wrote:

    Oh boy - the RFU have yet gone about an issue in their usual completely amateurish and half-hearted manner. How can this organisation continue to be run by people whose idea of vision is the end of their noses. Either you ban players playing for England if the ply their trade abroad, or you don't. This if, buts and maybe approach gives no one a clear choice, leaves them open to all sorts of potential litigation and sends yet another signal that we do not have a clue as how to run 'Team England'. Hopeless

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  • 7. At 7:36pm on 18 Mar 2009, dougmacandalf wrote:

    what happened to freedom of movement of workers in the european union? it may even improve the english game for players to gain experience from other countries!!!

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  • 8. At 7:51pm on 18 Mar 2009, Corkit wrote:

    It is understandable if players want to go to France, the money is great, and a great incentive. For the older players they might want a fresh challenge - fair enough. But they all need to understand that if they are overseas they must get the release dates for the squad gatherings in their contracts and they must expect that if they are out of sight then they are not going to be the first name on the squad list. Apparently Goode has sent Johno a DVD of all his matches since he moved across La Manche, I suspect that the other French based Englishmen who haven't had a look in have just waited for the coaches to fly over for a look - they ought to get real.

    The only player I could see automatically making the squad would be Wilkinson, but would he be any fitter in France tha he is in England?

    Bizzairly I think the RFU will do well from French based players who do make the elite squad, as I don't believe that they will not need to pay the compensation to the clubs that they would pay to English Premiership teams.

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  • 9. At 8:01pm on 18 Mar 2009, 17eIvIoN wrote:

    England are pathetic they should get over themselves, i've always wondered why Thommpson wasn't back Hooking for England thanks for clearing that up, also if Goode and get a call from no where then the other players should go and England should stop being pathetic, sack Andrew and Barron hire one man who takes less money and is competent and then pay for Jonno's flights to France to watch a few games we'd still save a fortune.

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  • 10. At 9:20pm on 18 Mar 2009, rrodders wrote:

    Why all this fuss about Haskell? I haven't logged the statistics but it seems that he must have given away more penalties per match than any other England player in recent times. He also suffers from the Wasps back row malaise, no doubt inspired by Lawrence Dallagio's final couple of pre-retirement seasons, of being very ponderous around the pitch and falling over too easily! Give me Tom Croft any time.

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  • 11. At 9:53pm on 18 Mar 2009, legrandblue66 wrote:

    Ridiculous, you pick your best players no matter what country they play in.

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  • 12. At 10:31pm on 18 Mar 2009, sixmilesanhour wrote:

    Short sighted and myopic?? You bet! A young person needs to learn, and one of the best ways is to travel and to experience other (rugby) playing styles and cultures.
    Foreign coaches have brought new ideas, so why not foreign travel.
    It is not as if France is the other side of the world. Oh, but we are talking about the RFU.
    BTW I might be mistaken but didnt MJ spend a season in the Antipodes in his younger days? Didnt do him much harm.

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  • 13. At 11:55pm on 18 Mar 2009, Nick Johnson wrote:

    Ah yes. Mr Baron shows his razor sharp insight and command of both people management skills and European anti trust law while continuing to reveal the RFU to have barely moved on from the "F**ts in Blazers" days.

    WHAT on Earth was the point in putting something as bleeding obvious as this in writing? If you play like Flutey has for the last few games the team will find a way to get you back for the games: simple as. If your performance is par or below and you are out of sight during the weeks between Elite Squad sessions then obviously you will descend in the pecking order. If players are too thick to figure this out then they have done us a favour by going to France and in the ruthlessly Darwinian way of modern sport, removed themselves from consideration. Putting out some pompous memo to the staff is just plain stupid and arrogant.

    And besides, to echo sixmilesanhour's comment shouldn't we be encouraging some kind of mind broadening travel? MJ is one example of a callow English lad going down to the Antipodes and making them regret any stick they gave him for years afterwards. I would also point out a certain Sir Clive who brought modern coaching back to England from his time in Oz. Who says the current generation won't learn valuable lessons from the French? The sooner Baron goes then the sooner we can actually get some professionals running the sport.

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  • 14. At 08:14am on 19 Mar 2009, Markytee wrote:

    I fail to understand how this could possibly be 'restraint of trade'.

    Every international player is picked based on the decision of the selectors. If English selectors choose not to pick Flutey, Haskell et al, then it's their choice to do so, whether that be due to form, discipline, or because they aren't playing within view of the selectors. No player has a God-given right to be selected for their country, nor selected within the elite squad. I agree with legrandblue66 (Post #11) that you pick your 'best players', but through the annals of time 'best players' have been the subjective view of the coaches at the time. And if that view is limited, for purposes of simplicity and in an effort to promote the domestic game, to watching English club players, then that should be up to the coaches at that time. Those players looking to France are doing so for the money. That's their choice, and their conscience. That they might, directly, or through the Union, play the 'restraint of trade' card rather than be loyal to their country demonstrates where their priorities are....

    It might also help if the English clubs stopped throwing cash at Welshmen, Kiwis and Springboks and League players alike, and invested in home-grown talent in an effort to keep their players in their homeland!

    Given the ARU have now opened the door to foreign players, if Johnny Wilkinson or Andy Sheridan went to Australia to ply their trade, would it be reasonable to expect the selectors to commute back and forth to stay in touch, or the player to commute just to attend 'squad sessions'? Just because France is relatively close, distance-wise, doesn't mean that the England selectors should be expected to cast their eyes to the other side of the channel.

    Haskell, Flutey and co must have known that their decision might have a bearing on future international selections. Gareth Thomas, during his stint in France, had great difficulty attending Wales sessions and was even delayed from joining the Lions in New Zealand in 2005. Why, then, could any player choose to take the cash offered by French clubs, and then cry 'foul' when England choose not to pick them, when they would surely know, from recent history alone, that French sides are difficult to deal with in managing player release, etc?

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  • 15. At 08:41am on 19 Mar 2009, insideblue62 wrote:


    Playing for your local club,( forget what the coach thinks) You would be well miffed off if you trained every session, and some guy who moved away to a well paid job, but could only turn up 50% of the time and missed some games because of said job, but still expected to be picked

    I think England have done the right thing, exactly what every other rugby teams says,
    "no excuses you don't train you don't play"

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  • 16. At 09:25am on 19 Mar 2009, chris wrote:

    totally disagree with all those who are slating haskell. yes he has been seen to give away silly penalties, but he is not the only one to do so. he makes ground, tackles and is all over the pitch. if back rowers dont give away a few, then they are not playing the game properly, nor are they in the right place on the pitch. the only reason easter doesnt give them away is because he is having a rest! haskell is a great talent and will be a corner stone of the england back row (8) along with croft (6) and rees (7). he needs further coaching on penalty reduction. additonally, he does seem to have a rather attractive mrs.


    the rfu are being a little short sighted - players need to develop and playing different styles of rugby can be no bad thing. at least they have let the players know where they stamd, however its a reaction -shouldnt the top rfu people be proactive, putting a system in place that gives all the players the best possible contract. surely they could precict that if you limit somebodies wages, yet they are percived as being one of the best, they may get a bit hacked off, stick two fingers up and go where people will pay them what they "worth"? in any other profession, thats what happens.

    perhaps a better option would be to remove the wage cap, or at least make it higher. money is clearly going to be a massive incentive - these guys have to earn a life times wages in 10-15 years.

    england must keep up comeptition for places. going abroad should nt stop this. instead of paying andrew to sit on the fence, and baron to sit on his face, why not pay some talent scouts to go abroad and watch our players? additionally, perhaps rfu should focus more on removing average foreign players in the gp playing out their twilight years for the cash (butch james as an exception - 2 reasons 1 he is still class and two im bath fan). its thse people who are stopping our talent coming through.



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  • 17. At 09:26am on 19 Mar 2009, Alan wrote:

    Excellent - I like that idea. Better to have people playing in England than somewhere else.

    Doesn't have to be a restraint of trade - its been made clear that the coaching team won't watch players who are 'overseas'. If there is someone just as good in England then play them.

    Why get people to fly 'x' far to see someone who's playing in another country. Maybe they could say there're cutting down on their carbon emissions ;-)

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  • 18. At 09:33am on 19 Mar 2009, joelee91 wrote:

    Personally, I cannot stand Haskell, he's a typical modern day "star" meaning he can't stand it when something doesnt go his way. Croft is a much more typical Englishman, he plays his heart out and plays cleanly, and thats the sort of player we're needing at the moment. Although i'm a fullback for my team, i know that you need clever minds, for example worsley, in the forwards, and haskell just doesnt have one, croft is just... what we need

    Now for the whole France issue, goode is a great example of a player who is out there for himself and his country. Any player moving to france is going for the money, with a few possibly for the new challenge, eg Flutey. goode sends these videos back knowing the selectors cannot come and see him, so he's putting himself in the frame by just getting their attention, even though i don't think he's the best fly-half we have, he is a very safe player, who knows what he's doing and apparently knows what the selectors want.

    If a player like goode can get into the england elite squad, then so can most of the players in france. let's face it, if any player hassels the selctors with videos of them playing in france and is playing well enough, the selectors won't ignore them, especially flutey.

    What's this "Flutey is 29 and is only seen as a short term measure in the England setup."
    Thats a joke, Catt player for england until he was 33! if flutey keeps up the performances i can see him there for a good few years, even as a super-sub in the 2011 world cup!

    If in the possibility that flutey stops getting picked because of the whole france issue, why not pick olly barkley? i'm a bath supporter and understand him leaving for the money of gloucetser etc but i'm still appreciating how well he plays for gloucester week in week out, and he plays alongside tindall!!! has anyone seen how well they play together? i think they put on quite a good show if i'm honest

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  • 19. At 10:01am on 19 Mar 2009, hermannredux wrote:

    It's interesting to look at how this sort of experiment has worked the other way round.
    Raphael Ibanez enjoyed the last couple of years of his international career while playing in England - and they were probably his best years at that level.
    Sebastien Chabal has been picked far more consistently for France since he's been in England. I wonder whether things will change for him next year.
    Going back a bit, I remember Thierry Lacroix and (I think) Alain Penaud returning to favour with the France selectors when they moved to England.
    There are other examples.
    Castaignede was a bit of an exception but that was down to injury, not country of residence.
    So far, Ben Cohen and Magnus Lund have been pointedly overlooked since moving to France - but surely that's because they wre respectively about tenth and fifth in the pecking order for their positions before they even left. No big deal.
    And don't forget Andy Goode somehow managed to worm his way into the squad...
    I'm sure MJ will keep an eye on players playing in France. They just have to make sure they perform.

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  • 20. At 10:19am on 19 Mar 2009, Forthview wrote:

    On one level I'm a little puzzled at what the fuss is about. Ireland for years made it clear that anyone who wanted a regular starting slot in their line up would have to play for an Irish province (Geordan Murphy would surely have started a lot more internationals if he hadn't remained loyal to Leicester for so long) and I suspect that non-Irish based players are only ever picked as stopgaps in key positions until someone based in one of the Irish provinces comes through (witness the sidelining of Reddan in favour of O'Leary at scrum half. Matt Williams notoriously tried to impose the same rule in Scotland by saying that only players who had existing contract with clubs outside Scotland would be picked for the national side and that when these contracts were up they would have to return to play in Scotland if they wanted to keep their international place (which struck me at the time as a potential restraint of trade issue- though fortunately Williams was pushed out before the issue became a real one). Wales have generally been a bit more flexible- the fact that several of the better supported English sides are just across the border probably helps, though several bif name players have gonea good deal further afield. France used to be pretty sniffy about picking players based outside the Hexagon (Chabal would probably have got more caps if he hadn't gone to Sale).

    I suppose the mistake the RFU have made here is being open and honest about things and putting the policy in written form (rather than operating through a quiet word in the ear of the players and whispers to the media). As far as the substance goes, I have mixed feelings. For small countries with limited professional opportunities like Scotland or Italy it's almost inevitable that many of your better players will end up playing abroad and they may well be the better for it too. On balance Ireland seem to have come out ahead with their policy of faviouring home based players, though it does potentially leave one short of back up in key positions (in Ireland's case the front row of the scrum and outside half). Clearly there can be issues with player release, as Wales found with the Autumn Internationals- and as I understand it the French Championship keeps going right through the Six Nations period. This might make French clubs quite happy with an RFU policy which made English players available to them during a period when their competitors were putting out second string sides! There must be issues in keeping up with what players performing on foreign fields are doing and what their form is like even with pan-European competitions like the Heineken Cup to help (I'm not sure Frank Hadden has ever taken on board the fact that Simon Tayler plays his rugby for Stade Francais in the second row.......). I suppose these days there could be squad cohesion issues if payers start comparing notes about their salary packages. Common sense says that a player who goes abroad is somewhat less likely to force their way into the squad (but the Goode saga this year rather undermines that argument)- though by the same token it may take longer for the news that an established player is having stinkers at club level to filter through. The bottom line is that I think the Barron letter simply states common sense reality but it was probably ill advised to be so open in this litigious age- which is itself a sad comment

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  • 21. At 10:43am on 19 Mar 2009, Lastrequestgringo wrote:

    I thought Haskell was going to be the real deal, but he hasn't delivered for England, he isn't the crunching tackler I thought he would be (always seems to be upright in the tackle). I think the RFU have got it spot on, the lure of money in France might be great - but trade that off with England caps and it may not seem as wonderful. Don't forget these guys still earn approx £250K per season if they are in the England setup and have sponsors - that's great money. Cipriani is trading off his few England caps - I suspect he needs to appear more on the pitch than in the glossy papers if we are to see the best of him (Lee Sharpe the footballer springs to mind, almost as good as Giggs but liked to party - vanished).

    Haskell should probably have been more loyal to Wasps, but I guess they all have agents now and money talks for some people. The Wasps academy will certainly turn out a replacement in the next couple of years!

    The defence for the RFU is simple, only give central contracts to English based players and then only pick Expats when the cupboard is bare - I prefer Croft to Haskell any day - he works much harder!

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  • 22. At 10:48am on 19 Mar 2009, alext wrote:

    What I don't understand, is that most people believe foreign imports damage the English game, as they reduce the pool of eligible players. Surely then, players going to France (where they're still available) must increase the pool of players and be a good thing!

    Consider, if Goode had stayed at Leicester, would Flood have got the experience required?

    And if Haskell moves to Paris, he can be in Bagshot faster than Johny Wilkinson or Jamie Noon who have to come all the way from Newcastle. (OK Brive is a bit further). Yes, of course he needs to get the contractual release to attend England games, but Stade should also get some money from the RFU as do other clubs. In other words, under EU law, the RFU cannot discriminate against Stade on the grounds that they are French.

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  • 23. At 10:54am on 19 Mar 2009, sdwatson wrote:

    Seems a reasonable position from the RFU to me - they pick the squad for England and if the players overseas can't commit to attending then they can't be picked. Far too much is made about the rights of these 'workers' - their choice to work is not being affected - it's their chance of being selected for a representative team outside of their main employment that is affected. You make your choice and get paid your money.

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  • 24. At 11:04am on 19 Mar 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments...some very interesting stuff there.

    I've just had an update on this story...

    After taking advice, the PRA has decided there is nothing legally wrong with the RFU's letter to the players. It was very carefully worded and cannot be construed as a restraint of trade.

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  • 25. At 11:13am on 19 Mar 2009, chris wrote:

    joelee91 - i am also a bath supporter. i also watch from a far the partnership of brkley and tindall. oh to have them back at bath... i have been telling anyone who will listen than mr barkley should be in the negland team, very least the bench. maybe next season.

    wasnt he going through all that fighting stuff in court when the original squad was selected last year...at the same time wasps were good....

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  • 26. At 11:28am on 19 Mar 2009, GerrardTheKing wrote:

    I find this whole furore a bit bizarre. Why on earth should the RFU find it difficult to scout players abroad? They're not exactly short of cash and as long as they do have release clauses in their contracts so they can meet up with England when called, then why shouldn't a player widen their experience as well as fill their boots/wallets (delete as appropriate).

    France isn't a million miles away, and I'm told they do actually have TV there. Perhaps the RFU could watch a video?

    Who knows, what players learn abroad may actually end up helping England.

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  • 27. At 12:22pm on 19 Mar 2009, smashingredXI wrote:

    I wonder if the Brazil football team would be half as good if they (de facto) banned their foreign-based players. I also wonder if those players would be as good as they are if they hadn't had the opportunity to compete in foreign leagues and experience different sporting cultures. Probably not. I also doubt that the RFU can realistically claim to be unable to scout a maximum of 10 relevant players based in France when the Brazilian football hierarchy clearly keeps tabs on ALL South American and European leagues!

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  • 28. At 12:58pm on 19 Mar 2009, Tinoflyer wrote:

    TreOes

    Good shout. If I were the RFU, I would tell Hopley, you are absolutely right, never thought of it as restricting trade, why Scargill type approach to the unions is a very worthy attitude. You are working in the best interests of English Rugby and the money we at the RFU spend on these players who are going to France. We will of course retract the letter. Everyone will be picked on their merits.

    Then of course, don't pick the players in France.

    There is not a thing Hopley can do about it!

    If you are good enough, you play. Simple.

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  • 29. At 12:58pm on 19 Mar 2009, vinotackler wrote:

    Stopping someone from working anywhere within the EU, if he or she holds an EU passport, for reasons other than ability and so on is, de facto, restraint of trade as far as i understand it. Baron has put this in writing! Another good way to tell if this is a good idea is to see who supprts it - if Baron and/or Andrew supports it iit is usually a fair indication that it is a daft idea.
    Haskell might be earning as much in a year as a top footballer does in two weeks and, quite frankly, good on him - who on earth are we or the RFU to tell him he shouldn't be thinking of his families future? If he's good enough he should play whether he lives in Paris or Pakistan.

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  • 30. At 2:16pm on 19 Mar 2009, phillinskeg wrote:

    So who is now making the excuses for a diminishing England form BEFORE it happens.

    The French clubs play the same game (same rules that is) as do the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. To place an arbitrary restriction on eligibility to wear a national shirt is simply being exclusive. Team selection for the national side should ALWAYS be on merit and merit alone. If the selectors cannot (read won't) travel to France or Italy to watch players they will simply not do their jobs to be best of their ability.

    Let this happen, and in a year or two, the national management will be unreasonably blaming the poor national team performance on players that have chosen, reasonable, to play in another country.

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  • 31. At 2:20pm on 19 Mar 2009, phillinskeg wrote:

    ... and of course, if a player has no incentive to have appropriate release clauses in their contracts then who's fault is that? Gone are the days (sadly) when playing rugby for one's country was simply a matter of pride and prestige. That went at the same time as the game went 'professional'. Some people seem to think they can still have it both ways.

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  • 32. At 4:40pm on 19 Mar 2009, henrio83 wrote:

    Did you know Max Evans, Thom Evans and Haskell all went to wellington College at the same time?

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  • 33. At 4:59pm on 19 Mar 2009, billreed57 wrote:

    i think we have to remember that Scotland and Ireland have had this problem for many years. what we are talking about is EXTRA time with the England team. the governing body of rugby has already said clubs must release players and that time with the national team is the same for everyone. what England want is extra time with player! more than the other nations get. its something that all the other 5 nations can't have.
    to tell a player that if he does not get extra time off from his club that pays his wages then he will not be picked for england is very wrong.
    England want an advantage over the other 6 Nations by having there squad for a extra week and will pay there English clubs for that privilege and thats fine. but to tell player there out because they play in France will only harm the English game in the long run

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  • 34. At 06:18am on 21 Mar 2009, Markytee wrote:

    Re SmashingredXI (Post #27)

    Brazil do indeed have many of their players in Europe.

    So, taking your analogy a step further, would you be okay with England playing their Autumn Internationals and RWC warm-up games in France, to make it more convenient for the players?

    After all, Brazil are seemingly playing all their friendlies closer to where the players are based these days......

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