Wilko rested....who's next?

  • Mark Orlovac - BBC Sport journalist
  • 13 Feb 07, 04:30 PM

m_orlavac_6666.gif eng_badge.gifLondon - To update the earlier discussion, Newcastle have just announced that star fly-half Jonny Wilkinson will in fact be rested for Sunday's crucial Premiership game against Bristol.

The Falcons are the first Premiership club to show their hand and decide to go along with the Rugby Football Union's request that the England starting XV against Ireland should not feature for their clubs this weekend – especially the ones playing on Sunday.

Newcastle say it was a "joint decision" between the player and the club but what does this mean for their chances against second-placed Bristol on Sunday?

And was the club's concession inevitable once England decided to bring forward their team announcement for the Dublin contest to try to persuade Premiership outfits to go along with their wishes?

The other teams playing next Sunday - Bristol, Saracens, Gloucester Wasps, Sale - have yet to say what they are going to do. Their team sheets are eagerly expected.

It seems that Leicester are ready to follow suit, telling BBC Radio Leicester that England starters Martin Corry, Harry Ellis, Louis Deacon and George Chuter are likely to be on the bench for the game against basement club Worcester on Saturday.

Prop Julian White, an England substitute against Italy last weekend, is likely to start.

All in all, it does seem that both the RFU and the Premiership clubs are keen to maintain what seems to be a new spirit of co-operation between the two parties.

Let's hope that this new atmosphere eventually leads to an agreement which will prevent a situation like this from happening again.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mike C wrote:

This is madness. All the England players should be rested. Follow the cricket example and follow the likes of Ireland, Wales and New Zealand: central contracts. A successful game will follow from a successful England team.

  • 2.
  • At 05:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • latenitepoker wrote:

The only way forward is central's one of the things that's helped to make Irish rugby more successful...and what do the All Blacks do? Yes, they have central contracts too. The English cricket team is vastly improved since contracts were introduced - and by comparison, look at the state of the English football team. If there was ever a case against clubs having any real power, this is it, because the national football team is a joke.

  • 3.
  • At 06:13 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Of course any member of the starting xv should be rested it makes common sense!!.In the interest of English rugby full stop we must have a competitive national team,therefore anything to help with this regard should be done.Frankly I feel no member of the squad of 22 should in any way be involved.

  • 4.
  • At 06:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • herohodge wrote:

Funny that what with newcastle being andrews previous club...i for one pray that glos and the other teams don't follow suit so that the fans can see the best players competing against each other and the wonderful guiness prem isn't devalued!

  • 5.
  • At 06:29 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • sam wrote:

it all depends wher your priorities lie, your country or your club as the players cant cope with both. its very cute of leicester tho, rest deacon but play hamilton. i bet it happens. unfortunately they hav the right to but it will not help anyone if they do

  • 6.
  • At 06:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

It seems to make lots of sense for players to be rested, but in most cases would it not be best have some on the bench, so at least they can play 20 mins of rugby.

If we cotton-wool all our players then we would never have form players. These players are paid to play for their clubs as well. If i was a Leicester fan i would be disappointed. They lose in the region of 8 players from 6 nations rugby if all rested. Big loss for a Premiership weekend.

I think the decision should be the players and clubs ONLY. Clubs want players to be fit and over playing this time of year can ruin seasons. They will do what is best and i bet that would also suit England in most cases.

  • 7.
  • At 06:46 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Badger wrote:

I disagree - clubs should come first as they pay the wages. I look forward to seeing Sean Lamont back playing for the Saints. I'm sure players would rather play than partake in non-contact training exercises.

  • 8.
  • At 06:54 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Dave Sherwin wrote:

The fact that players will be rested or benched is not in fact the key point. Rather like a magician the Premiership clubs are drawing all the attention with talk of co-operation whilst the real problem lies unsolved.

The real problem is that the players will physically be AT their clubs. The Irish are concerned that O'Gara is not training with the national team this week. But not one England player is training with the national team this week, as they have to be released to their clubs even if they are not playing. Those benched by Leicester will still be at Leicester training this week, when they should be at an England training camp.

Don't let the clubs and RFU hoodwink us. Ireland have training scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday next week.

England have training scheduled on Wednesday and Friday next week. 8 training days versus 2 training days. And we expect to compete?

  • 9.
  • At 06:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • jake wrote:

no, i dont think that any teams should rest.Me and my dad have already brought tickets for newcaslte v Bristol and when i heard that the england players are resting i was very upset. I was really looking forward to see jonny Wilkinson play for the first time and now its been ruiend. Even if he played for 15 minuets i would be happy! Please think about it and maybe change your mind. If he cant play will he be wathching?

  • 10.
  • At 07:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Luke Swan wrote:

The clubs have to put the national intrest at heart. After all it is the international stage that makes these players the big stars that people will pay to see in club action. The clubs should be proud to supply international player but it is a bit hard on those at the bottom of the table. I'd rather see my club be scarificed for the good of England than see my club win the priemership and be taunted by another Irsihman!

  • 11.
  • At 07:25 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Falcons Fan wrote:

i also disagree with Mark Orlovac.

Season tickets bought for club games are on the basis that the club plays its strongest team possible (barring injuries etc) in order to achieve the best posible finishing position.

By resting key players this reduces the chances of a victory and thus league position which could also effect European places.

Clubs pay wages to players by money paid by club supporters. Club v country is no contest. Club should come first every time.

  • 12.
  • At 07:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Phill wrote:

But in the case of Wilkinson, resting him now should allow a greater chance that he'll be available later in the season by not playing too many hard games in a row coming back from injury and also maximise England's chances of doing well, which, in turn, will draw crowds to the Premiership - so the club wins twice.

Of course, the cynic might say that whatever team the Falcons field away to Bristol will make not a dent on the scoreboard, so why risk him?

  • 13.
  • At 07:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Damo wrote:

It is up to the club, not the individual player, whether they should be rested in order ofr international duty. Rugby may be harmed much like county cricket was by the lack of international class players involved because they are all being 'rested' for international clashes.

  • 14.
  • At 08:05 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • James Dickety wrote:

I think the RFU should pay for england players wages during the tournament and the breaks as many of them have to take breaks. It's not fair on the clubs.

  • 15.
  • At 08:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Lawrence Gough wrote:

It will be pretty simple to sort out the answers into two piles. One comprising the 100,000 or so people who regularly go to see rugby each weekend (i.e. club supporters). The other, several million people who watch bbc coverage of internationals, and can barely name more than 2 or 3 club sides.
Taking the clubs' point of view, you may notice that Balshaw has been injured playing for England - probably because he shouldn't have been played in the first place as he hadn't recovered properly. So Gloucester don't have him available this weekend.
If you're the RFU, or a casual fan, you wont care. But then why should clubs, and their fans, give a stuff about the RFU?
PS I hope Luke Swan supports B*rf!

  • 16.
  • At 08:15 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Hughes wrote:

I agree with Luke. It is the international games that comes first in rugby union at present.

Also, if all teams rest their internationals, then it will still be an even contest. Possibly, even, it will give a slight advantage to the lower teams, which will make the table more interesting.

Well done to Newcastle for taking the lead - although I think the RFU should pay clubs for reduced gate receipts.

  • 17.
  • At 08:16 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Robert Johnston wrote:

I think it is unfair to put club and international players in that posistion to choose between their club and cuontry and I think their country should come first after all it's more important to play for the country than club and I am shure Lamont and others feels that to.

I notice both Tait and Flood are playing for Newcastle.
The problem for Newcastle is that they are in the relegation zone, they have a couple of key games that occur during the 6N. If things go against them they could be relegated, do you think Tait, Flood, Wilkinson etc will stay and play in Division 1?

  • 19.
  • At 08:45 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ed Hornby wrote:

Badger:"Clubs should come first as they pay the wages"

Like the football premiership then? Engerlund are going to be perennial underachievers and the national football team don't even play a competition like the 6 nations each year, half a dozen maeningless friendlies... I think the Union prem teams have it right, they rest the players to condition them for the right points of the season, injuries avoided are worth more than one game in the long run

  • 20.
  • At 09:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sam H wrote:

this is good, nice to see club and country finally colaborating though id presume that this is more of a special case for Wilkinson considering his injury history. though ultimatly i think that the solution will have to be get a squad with central contracts payed by the RFU. like the irish. though i do think that it would be good for the substitutes to get some games to keep them at a good match preperation level. people like tait, flood, white, and rees need to justhave that competetive match in the gap to keep them in form, and competetive for the national team

  • 21.
  • At 09:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • igar1971 wrote:

I salute the Newcastle Falcons for putting both player and nation first,this must have been a tough call as they have seen little of the investment made in Wilko and to have him fit and playing for his national team and should put pressure on other premiership sides, as with leicester whom have been hit by international duty much more than any other team in the prem, lets hope this goes a long way to resolving the club country battle.

  • 22.
  • At 09:27 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • green giant wrote:

I agree with the clubs. I beleive it should be a joint decision between the player and club, but mostly the player as its his life if he gets injured but i believe the club should have a say as they pay the wages.

  • 23.
  • At 09:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jordi21 wrote:

Why cant the RFU sort this matter out! I personally feel that by offering a system similar to that of the ECB in that certain players are centrally contracted and therefor wages are payed for by the country. This would not only mean that the national side gets to work together more often similar to that of New Zeland it would also incourages clubs to look into investing in younger players which in the long run will also help the national side as well as increasing popularity with the younger generations.

  • 24.
  • At 09:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Joshua Hughes wrote:

It also shows that the clubs have faith in those who are selected less often

  • 25.
  • At 10:08 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • James wrote:

The English should not be resting there players. To be frank the English team has been such a farce in the past 2 years they should be working as hard as possibile to start getting some combinations together before the world cup.

As for would think he has had enough rest in the past 2 years he should be out there playing getting 100% match fit again.

The National team should always be put first no matter who pays the wages (RFU could stump up the missing cash not like they don't have fingers in the IRB pie already)

  • 26.
  • At 10:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sim Wright wrote:

The clubs have done all they can to help. They helped in the Autumn by allowing an extra international and by not insisting on the maximum 3 game rule. This weekend is not an international weekend. The players are paid to play for their clubs. The players are selected based on their performances for the clubs. The fans who have bought tickets deserve to see their teams pick their best players. Resting players is not always the best plan - ask any Gloucester fan what happens when players rest for too long!

  • 27.
  • At 10:22 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

The players are paid to play for their clubs and its where they belong. if the english team are not releasing the scottish players then why the english.

  • 28.
  • At 12:00 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Olly wrote:

Look at the New Zealand Super 14 sides.Neither of the 4 new Zealand club sides are playing their key national players such as the likes of Carter, Mccaw and so on.There is too much of a risk for a top player sustaining an injury in a one-off club game(such as this weekend). The England 6 nations squad should use this week to gel the backline moves and forward play accordingly in order to pursue 6 nations glory. Club sides should use the international fixture period as one of unearthing young talent that will one day fill the same shoes as our current England crop.

  • 29.
  • At 12:19 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Adrian Heffernan wrote:

Central contracts have worked for NZ and indeed Ireland. Sadly there is so much money required from the likes of Cecil Duckworth etc in England then one can understand why clubs will stand firm against the RFU. It will be interesting to see how many clubs follow Newcastle's move in resting English players and whether or not not other Internationals on duty will be rested... something I never remember seeing when Mr Andrew was Director of Rugby in the North East

  • 30.
  • At 05:57 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Flashman wrote:

What's going on! Surely no one will win in this crazy situation. Either the clubs suffer or England suffer. Everyone has known when the Six Nations will be, why can't they play these league matches at some other time in the season?

  • 31.
  • At 07:19 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Mike Smith wrote:

Supporters of the successful clubs like Leicester, need to remember that their successes have been a result of recruiting international players. No international players = no grumbles, but no top three finish. The words CAKE and EAT IT may be appropriate here.

  • 32.
  • At 07:57 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Ian Seddon wrote:

In my opinion its about priorities. If we as a rugby watching nation want to see our national team play to their full potential and compete against other countries then we need to allow the people in charge of our national elite players call the shots. We English/Scots/Welsh/Irish all want to see our team make us proud on the big stage, dont we?
As a club supporter I too want to see the stars perform in the Premiership - but for me, to see my national team perform and win trumps the pleasure of seeing them playing back with their clubs.

  • 33.
  • At 08:17 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Mutt wrote:

#28 - Sam, the issue isnt player release, it's player rest.

Frank Hadden has raised to "issue" to pre-empt the scottish players Lamont, etc being named in club squads for the weekend while England players are rested. And in that vain it is interesting to note that Leicester of all clubs have announced they will be resting there other international players like Castrogiovanni aned Murphy (note: no mention of Hamilton - or is that just paranoia?)

Even if every player Ashton named is rested, they will still not be "released" for England duty/training this week and as such the scottish/other internationals will not be released either.

  • 34.
  • At 08:21 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Robert Brown wrote:

Yes its OK for the clubs to rest the english and irish players, but I think it is a total disgrace for the clubs not to rest the scottish players.

This is unsporting and an explanation should be sought from all the clubs involved.

I am totally on Frank Haddens side on this debate, if its good for one it should be good for the others.

  • 35.
  • At 08:28 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • jmcgrinder wrote:

So leicester will rest there engurland players but refuse to rest scotland's hamilton! This is why all celtic nations should ensure that they continue with the policy to keep their best players playing in the Celtic league. There is no excuse for this stupid and irrational decision. The Celtic league is already stronger than the english counterpart and this should now ensure that all future players think doubly twice before thinking that playing down south will better their career. I think it is all in vain anway as all the rest in the world won't stop them getting spanked against Ireland & France as they are simply no where good enough.

  • 36.
  • At 08:28 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Dutch wrote:

This question should have been answered years ago and the RFU has buried its head in the sand to avoid upsetting the 'Big boys'in the GP.
It would be a better option to suspend league games for the period of the 6N.
In the meantime the clubs could participate in the over-rated Heineken Cup, using their squads and giving non international players the European experience. The competition would be better as a knockout (Like the football FA Cup) anyway and less draining on the players.
The result would be that ALL six nations players are free to remain with their international squads for the entire 6N period including yes even the likes of Italy and Scotland.
The Heineken Cup would be out of the way thus providing free space in which to complete the league programme.
In the words of a famous singer 'Everyone's a winner baby'.............................................I'll get me coat.....

Yep, central contracts for me too. At the end of the day, if the international rugby team suffers, the clubs will suffer too. Look at the interest in rugby that was generated following the World Cup success. Internationals are the focal point for rugby as a whole and clubs must realise that. However, I would also offer financial incentives for clubs that produce international players, which I believe would encourage clubs to nurture home-grown talent and thereby give the England coaches a larger pool of international class players to select from.

  • 38.
  • At 08:58 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Guy wrote:

Post 2. Did you watch the last ashes series?!

  • 39.
  • At 09:32 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • bathboy wrote:

I get far more pleasure watching 20 Bath games a season (even in these dark days) and feeling part of the Bath 'family' than I ever get from watching the national team perform on TV. If we are deprived of using our best team for huge chunks of the autumn and spring (effectively we already are because the internationals return injured) it detracts from the experience and occasion...and the value for money of our (very expensive) season ticket.
In common with Glaws, Tigers and Saints we have no problem in filling our ground.

I also like to watch county cricket. Somerset (I am a glutton for punishment). How often have we been able to see the likes of Caddick, Trescothick, Blackwell et al over the last few years. We are now getting Caddick regularly now he is past his best.

Think hard before you push too hard for central contracts - you might just get what you wish for.

  • 40.
  • At 09:36 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • kevin wrote:

I agree with Mark why are we playing club matches in the middle of the 6N anyway,why not try cutting down on club matches and have a mid season break,I am sure with proper fixture planning club & country would benefit, I know it is not easy to do, but nothing ever is

  • 41.
  • At 09:53 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Philbert wrote:

There's been a lot of talk about the club vs. country row. Does anyone know or has anyone asked what they players think about it all? I mean, at the end of the day it is their bodies on the line out there!

For me the problem lies in the fact that clubs are not simply clubs any more, they are businesses and, as such, have to make business decisions regarding the success of the club. The success of the national team is, at best, of secondary importance. It's like asking Vodafone to make a decision for the good of the mobile market and not for the good of the company or shareholders. Never going to happen!!

What we really need is for the RFU and the Premierhsip clubs to take a look at the other top rugby nations and see how they have tackled this issue. Let's forget for a moment that this should have be addressed long before the RFU rushed into professionalism with their eyes firmly closed and look for a solution that works for the good of both club and country.

On the subject of resting players, if Brian Ashton is reading this, please can you rest Goerge Chuter for the rest of the 6N's and possibly the RWC too?? His complete lack of tactical and positional awareness that led to the Italains try last weekend speaks volumes of his international pedigree?? I could see from the comfort of my living room (!) what was happening at the base of the Italian ruck and he was but a few feet away!! Ok, we still won the game but imagine for a moment that same scenario at a crucial point in a more important game and would you still bet your mortgage on GC defending the line? I'm sure that Mr Mears would not have been so niave!!

  • 42.
  • At 09:54 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew Clements wrote:

As a Gloucester supporter i always want to see our best players playing, this is not to say i am not madly passionate about England, i am also a member of the England supporters club.
The problem is if one club plays its international players then all the rest have to, you cant have say for instance Leicester playing there best players and us resting ours, then giving us a good trouncing.
With the Heineken cup being such a money earner for the clubs it creates a huge problem for the clubs, some teams have lost many places in the league during the six nations.
As for Scotland i see the coach is upset because three clubs wont let his players attend a training session, as for Rory Lawson Gloucster scrum half, he sits him on the bench for seventy minutes getting cold and only brings him on when the game is over, i am very sure Rory is happier playing a full game for us.

  • 43.
  • At 09:54 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Dutch wrote:

It would appear to me that everyone is missing the blatantly obvious.
There are too many games, league, Heineken, 6N, Cup, other internationals blah...blah etc...
Clubs have squads of 30, 40 or more players why not use them. There are hidden talents within all clubs that never get the opportunity to blossom and by utilising the squad players instead of wimpering about the loss of the international players would offer such an opportunity.
As ticket paying fans of course we want to watch the best players representing our clubs but as it stands at the moment we don't get to see them play anyway as they spend most of their season on the treatment table.
I refer to my previous posting, we need to find a way of reducing the toll on players and yet retain the balance for the fans.
The elite players should be carted off and train and work together as a unit for the entire 6N and be paid by their home nations to do so. This is the only way that any of the 6N teams will ever compete with the likes of the Southern Hemisphere sides.
The inevitability of Professionalism was thrust upon us and its about time that the RFU woke up and realised that it too was part of the deal.

  • 44.
  • At 10:03 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Jonny99 wrote:

English rugby needs a massive shake-up and this highlights a huge organisational issue.

Too much rugby is played by too few players and the structure doesnt bring the best out of our players.

I have already made this suggestion to Rob Andrew about what should happen (I bent his ear about it after a Falcons game last year;-)

I propose:

8 Regional club teams placed around England - North East, North West, East Mids, West Mids, South West, South London, North London, West London.

All 8 play eachother home and away each season - no promotion or relegation.

All enter a domestic cup competition at the 1/4 final stage

All 8 play in a European League/Cup competition

All the clubs are run as a francise of the RFU with money going to them on the basis of success, players who play for England as well as ticket sales/mercendising they generate.

That way we have fewer games, but the ones that are played are far more competitive.

Squeaks thought it was a great idea but that the clubs would never go for it as it was 'turkeys voting for xmas'

As a huge Falcons fan, I wouldnt have any problem transferring my allegiance to a team that represented my region (North East inc Yorkshire). I guess other areas may have a problem (with the traditional south west rivalries)


  • 45.
  • At 10:18 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Mike Cawthra wrote:

Dutch (Post 36) is on the right track. Being realistic the RFU missed the boat when rugby went pro and are now paying the price. But who can blame the owners, who stuck their hands in their pockets, for wanting control?

We are extremely unlikely to ever get true central contracts but organising the season so that you don't have key games on weekends like this would surely help. What about playing the Anglo-Welsh Cup during the 6 nations as most clubs field their second teams anyway. Then the block release for the international players would be less of an issue.

It may also help the supporters understand what is going on when. The current Premiership for a week or two, Anglo Welsh for a couple of weeks, Premiership, Heineken Cup makes your head spin. Anyone know what the current situation is in the Anglo Welsh Cup? No, nor do I!

I do disagree with Dutch on the HC though. Brilliant competition in my opinion. For your club to be able to say they are the best in Europe and see some excellent teams and games is great.

If Internationals didn't clash with club dates then we wouldn't be having this problem in the first place!

Hopefully when they restructure the season for the post world cup world, they'll be able to fit Guinness Premiership dates so that Internationals are in set, no GP, zones so that everyone wins!

  • 47.
  • At 10:39 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Chopper wrote:

It's all about money. The clubs can't afford not to have fixtures - they know there will still be good crowds despite resting international players. Sorry if you've bought tickets but it was always likely that the 'stars' were not going to play or just come off the bench.
As for it just being England players - as I understand it the RFU requested that the England players rest. Nobody has said that if the other unions request it then they would be refused.
I agree that it is interesting that now Rob Andrew is director things are changing - 'I won't be using connections to influence club versus country' - I'd hoped that is why you were employed in the first place....
Country first I'm afraid.
Let's have some super clubs - like Ireland, Scotland, Wales, southern hemisphere and see how we compete as a nation afterwards.

  • 48.
  • At 11:05 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • dewi humphreys wrote:

am i alone in suffering from mooreitis? headache,nausea,buzzing in the ears are the symptoms. please bbc help me - no more moore and his inane,prattlings.i just cant take any moore.

  • 49.
  • At 11:08 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Cumbrian Falcon wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with comment 41; the most sense I have read lately on the subject , I too would have no objections to a regional franchise but would include Cumbria as well as Yorkshire as there is a lot of talent here ( eg Rob Miller who was snapped up by the falcons from under the noses of the League clubs)

  • 50.
  • At 11:29 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Born2doit24 wrote:

The best option for the RFU would be to form a regional league and once a players contract has run out at his club just centrally contract him to a region, much like the Irish set up. If they player doesnt want to sign a contract he can then resign for his club and give up playing for his country. This is the only option and is the hardline stance the RFU must take. It will upset a few but Im sure through time clubs will get over it, after all, if they refuse to see the bigger picture they only have themselves to blame.

  • 51.
  • At 11:43 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Joey Something wrote:

A balance has to be struck. Clive Woodward made the point that certain players need to be rested, to keep them fresh, but some players should play. Why?

Because rugby players get better at playing rugby by PLAYING RUGBY.

It's the right decision by Newcastle, because it means Wilkinson is rested for the England game, Toby Flood (who hasn't played more than 30 minutes rugby in the last 3 weeks) gets a full game, and everyone wins. To say that everyone needs resting - what? The forwards did not do their job against Italy, why should they be rested. The only circumstances in which a player should be rested in the interests of the national side is if there is a slight injury that needs nursing, or if the player is notoriously injury-prone.

This begs the question; if there's a worry about their fitness...why play them at all?

  • 52.
  • At 11:55 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Why cant the players decide for themselves when they play, especially the older, more experienced ones. They know their own bodies and how much physicality they can take. Let them decide if they are up to 80mins of premiership rugby in their weekend off 6N.

  • 53.
  • At 11:57 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Chopper wrote:

My posting crossed with a couple of others above.

Can't agree more - regional teams. Remember we used to have divisional championships. These, in their heyday i.e. before they moved onto the back burner and deliberately to coincide with more important fixtures - internationals, were highly succesfull.

It is important to have the top players playing together or against each other.

Until professionalism your club was your village or town and that was more important than anything else. Now it's the nearest 'big' team. I don't think allegences run that deep so that people wouldn't switch to a regional based team. Obviously there are exceptions....

  • 54.
  • At 11:59 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

I think it's not good as it will mean that Newcastle may be th eonly ones to do it and will end up being penalised. Who pays his wages after all? That said, I'm a Bristol fan, so it could help us, and why weren't players form England allowed to go to Scotlandf's training camp? Looks like one rule for one, and one for everyone else!

  • 55.
  • At 11:59 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

I just hope that those who want to see any of the 22 playing at the weekend dont then berate the national team for losing against the Irish. Dont see the problem as injuries to much more the fact that the Irish will have eight days training against our two. How can we be expected to compete.

  • 56.
  • At 12:04 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Flatspot wrote:

The answer is not to play any GP matches during the 6N, and scrap the stupid playoffs at the end of the season.

  • 57.
  • At 12:14 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Brian Dolton wrote:

It amuses me that there are all these voices claiming that the current structure isn't working, that England can't possibly be successful without central contracts or at least a free hand in saying when players can and can't play, that International rugby must come first...

So, remind me again. Which team are currently World Champions?

The fact is that England have done badly with the current structure in place. But they have also done extremely well with a structure in place that was, if anything, LESS helpful to the International set-up than now (there are FAR more England release days and player training sessions than there were four yeafrs ago).

This might lead one to the conclusion that other factors than the structure of the game are at work. But the RFU seem to be able to use the recent failures of their team, under their coach, as a stick with which to beat the club game into submission.

Personally, I want to see the season restructured, so that internationals are not played in the middle of the main domestic league. I also agree that there is too much rugby - too much international rugby, that is. Autumn internationals, Summer tours and the Six Nations make for too many England games. England play New Zealand more often than they do Wales, Australia more frequently than they do Ireland. This is a nonsense. Cut down the tour schedules - southern teams go north one year, northern teams go south the next - and you'd solve the problem almost at a stroke.

But I suspect that the RFU actually want to see far MORE international games, and ultimately go the route of cricket, where there is an international team almost entirely divorced from the rest of the game. Unfortunately, I can't see that working with the professional structure that Rugby has - and the current Premiership clubs are not going to roll over and die just because the RFU says so. the owners and the fans simply won;t stand for it.

  • 58.
  • At 12:21 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • jojo wrote:

I don't think Hamilton will be playing for Leicester this weekend. It will more likely be Cullen and Kay who are not involved with Ireland or England.
Julian White is likely to play as he has only played about 15 minutes in total over the past two weeks. Also he was played for four weeks running in the Autumn and ended up having to be rested by Leicester for three weeks as he was absolutely shattered.
I think most clubs have the players welfare at heart but I'm not sure that England do.

  • 59.
  • At 12:41 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Dom wrote:

Have a proper structure to your season.

Play the GP in a block, then the HC, and the 6N to finish the season off.

Ditch the EDF and the pay-offs!


  • 60.
  • At 01:01 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Another Tiger Fan wrote:

In response to 44 and anyone else advocating regional teams, I can only presume that you arent a season ticket holder to a club with years of history, or a club owner who has ploughed hundreds of thousands of pounds into developing their team.

The time, if ever, for such a solution was 1995, not today.

The solution to the club v country debate is a wholesale restructuring of the fixtures, so there is no clash, after all, can you imagine premiership football being played on international weekends?

  • 61.
  • At 01:12 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • tim wrote:

What this actually needs is a complete review of the amount of English (and some other countries) rugby games. Do we really need all the games we have in the GP seeing as they have playoffs at the end to decide the title anyway as well as the Cup and European competitions? Thin out some of this and it will leave us some space so that the week before internationals there are no fixtures for the GP teams.

  • 62.
  • At 01:44 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Ryan wrote:

The arrogance of some of the poster on here against clubs is ridiculous - I don't think you get it - the English clubs are money making organisations in their own right, commercial entities that cannot just be put out of existence and become some sort of semi-professional feeder club to a regional side! Try telling Leicester they have to fold to become part of a Midlands regional side - it is not going to happen and for those who are ignorant about how big the clubs are - I know a lot of fans who support their club over their country. Can you imagine telling Manchester United and Liverpool to suddenly cease to exist and become a regional side for English football? No of course not and neither can you ask Leicester and Northampton to merge or Bristol, Bath and Gloucester - NO CHANCE!

  • 63.
  • At 02:03 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Dutch wrote:

No 58 you are spot on. As a Tiger fan you have more reason than most to object to losing the backbone of the side.
Fixture resctructuring has to take place, I have been listening to his same discussion on here, in bars and Rugby clubs for over a decade and not one iota of ground has been made in sorting it out. You simply cannot expect League fixtures to be played during the 6N. If the RFU use that as a starting point it surely can't be rocket science to establish some format that satisfies all.
Unfortunately along with professionalism comes money and that is hand in hand with greed. Whilst Rugby panders to the money men nothing will change. They put in the pounds and expect their return.
It is the real Rugby men/women who can see where the problem lies, the money men cant see the wood for the banknotes.
I'm still involved in amateur rugby where loyalty, pride and welfare are more important...long may it survive!

  • 64.
  • At 02:27 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • George wrote:

I'm welsh and have no vested interest in English rugby sorting itself out, but it seems to me that in 2003 the clubs made real sacrifices and let Clive woodward run the show with regards to players being available for training. Result = RWC win.

Sir Clive has called central contracts a red herring, but not explained why. To me it seems the clubs would save loads of money on wages and the RFU would be left with a strong enough squad to really challenge the All blacks and make rugby a much larger sport within England. The clubs would more than benefit.

  • 65.
  • At 02:58 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Orlovac wrote:

Hi all,

This is obviously a huge issue and the number of posts on this entry and on "clubs facing tough choices" reflects how many people want this whole mess sorted out.

In reply to post 41, players are always very diplomatic when they comment on the club v country row.

For example I asked Josh Lewsey about this on Saturday and he simply said: "I just love playing."

In a way they have no choice but to sit on the fence. Of course they want to play for their countries but they are acutely aware that clubs pay their wages. It is a difficult situation for them.

The main thing the powers that be have to do is to reduce the number of games and stop the situation of having two tournaments running at the same time.

Would Premiership football continue during the European Championship?

As some of you have touched upon, one of the ways this could be sorted (and which seems the most sensible to me) is compartmentalising the season as in the southern hemisphere with one competition coming after another.

The play-offs and the domestic cup competition could be ditched to free up some weekends, leaving enough time for World Cups and Lions tours.

I would not be particularly happy to see the cup competition go but I think everyone agrees that the current situation cannot continue.

What do you reckon?

  • 66.
  • At 05:00 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • John B wrote:

How do the Irish deal with non-Irish based players i.e those in the Premiership? Are these overseas players not included in training or do they have a special agreement with the clubs?

  • 67.
  • At 05:01 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Luke Swan wrote:

Personally I think we need to change the format of the preimership system. We should follw american footballs style. In that they have 32 teams all capable of beating one another and yet they only play 16 games in the regular season. I say expand the preimership to 16 teams split into two nation wide conferences. They play evey team in the whole league once. The home/away fixtures alternate each year to makes sure every team plays roughly the same number of games at home. The top two team in each confernce play each other at the end of the season and then the winners each conference play each other what the amercian would call the superbowl. The yanks maybe stupid but they organise there sport well. This will reduce then season and give the player more chance to succed at international level.

Good idea?

  • 68.
  • At 07:15 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Another Tiger Fan wrote:


Although it runs contrary to every Englishman's thinking to adopt anything from our American cousins, what you propose is not the worst idea I have ever heard

Certainly beats any suggestions of regional franchises - only some accountant who has never watched the game could suggest that...

  • 69.
  • At 09:42 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Post 65 - No of course the English football Premiership won't continue during the European Championship. The simple reason is because the European Championship is played after the season has finished and not during it! Move the Six Nations to the summer and hey presto no conflict between league and internationals! Thats a pretty bad example mate.

  • 70.
  • At 10:02 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Chopper wrote:

How would moving the 6 nations to the summer reduce fixtures?
Regional teams work in Wales, Irleand, Scotland, New Zealand, Austrailia, South Africa because they become successful with meaningful competition - the same would happen in England.
This isn't football and the crowds are not the same....

  • 71.
  • At 09:02 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Orlovac wrote:

Hi Rob,
I was mentioning the football just to highlight how ridiculous it is to have the Six Nations and Premiership running at the same time, that was all.

  • 72.
  • At 11:27 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Mark - point taken, Chopper - I was being sarcastic about moving the Six Nations to the summer to make a point, but then again you do have your international tours to the Southern Hemisphere anyway which don't help players rest between seasons.

  • 73.
  • At 12:14 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Gazza wrote:

Most rugby fans I know (we are probably called armchair fans) follow England with a passion and might have a passing interest with a local club. My guess is thats the most common sort of fan, except in certain hotbeds esp in the SW.

If thats the case then England should take precedence with central contracts. Without that, or the present goodwill arrangements England become a scratch team a la the Baa Baas, and I will lose interest, because even the best team of scratch players always lost.

You could even make Club England a challenge team playing friendly matches against the clubs ????

  • 74.
  • At 01:12 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Jonny99 wrote:

Certainly beats any suggestions of regional franchises - only some accountant who has never watched the game could suggest that...

Err Tiger Fan, it was you who argued against the idea of regional franchises on financial grounds, not me.

As others have pointed out, regional rugby works in almost every other successful rugby nation - the Super 12 being the best example. It is only the protectionist, self-serving attitudes of the so-called bigger clubs and their members that holds back this developing successfully in England.

And not that it has any bearing on my democratic right to opine on the subject, but I am neither an accountant, nor am I a plastic rugby fan. I am a season ticket holder at the Falcons and have been watching club rugby (as well as playing until recently) for years.

Your aggressive tone and poorly constructed arguments can only mean one thing - you are a board member of the RFU.


  • 75.
  • At 01:39 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Simon Green wrote:

The RFU and Premiership have to learn to work together in a spirit of good will. There are some signs that this is beginning to happen, although there's a long way to go.

It seems that there are a lot of England fans who don't recognise this need. They should pay a little bit more attention to what's going on in English rugby as a whole, rather than just a few International matches.

There is no reason that both club and international rugby can't thrive: we don't have to consign either one to the scrap heap.

  • 76.
  • At 02:49 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • hsbjkam wrote:

if resting players is causing such agro for prem clubs then the should have the 6 nations when the season has ended. they dont have the world cup of football during the football season, so why should rugby be any different. that way everybody wins.

  • 77.
  • At 02:54 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • hsbjkam wrote:

why cant the 6 nations wait untill the end of the season that way they can do it all in 1 go.

also prem clubs wont have lose key players for those important prem games and if your scotland then you wont lose key players for 6 nation games.

everyone is happy

glad wilko is back
(funny england are doing well again)

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