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Compensation calls have hollow ring in free market

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John Beattie | 12:05 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

So Ospreys boss Andrew Hore, a New Zealander, has backed calls for a mechanism to compensate countries that develop players and then see them sign for teams in other countries.

He calls it a transfer fee. As you'll read later it's the Kiwis who have the biggest cheek in all of this though.

The country Hore thinks is losing players at the moment is Wales who, thanks to Warren Gatland, a simple game plan, and some tough fitness stuff, have won a Grand Slam.

The theory is that one country, in this case Wales, has developed a player and then he's plucked away from them to play somewhere else.

It is a complete load of nonsense. Just because it's happening to Wales doesn't mean it becomes an international crisis.

Scotland lock Richie Gray

Scotland lock Richie Gray will be playing in England next season

What everyone seems to forget in all of this is that the other country now pays for your players. They are off your wage bill. And that frees up money to develop others and to a greater extent the players you've lost are still available to play for you.

Wales is not losing its stars because of some skullduggery, it's because the Welsh money men aren't ploughing enough into the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union isn't paying the players as much as it might on its central contracts.

Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins, Dragons lock Luke Charteris and Ospreys hooker Huw Bennett are the latest Welshmen heading for France, while flanker Dan Lydiate, wing George North, and centre Jamie Roberts are also said to be going overseas.

Welsh players are moving because they will be paid more money to play in France, simple as that.

The bigger picture is interesting in that it impacts Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Georgia to a large extent if the direction we are going is from smaller rugby nations to bigger ones, but the Kiwis have tabled this motion as New Zealand rugby loses on average 100 players every year. The IRB are to look at it.

The Kiwis, for generations, have been offering school scholarships to Samoans, Fijians and Tongans so that they can be used by the All Blacks and now they cry foul the other way.

It's a joke. And anyway, developing players are paid buttons.

One of the great things about the world is that people can move freely. People, if international laws allow, can work where there is money to pay them.

On the flip side, there is logic in each country deciding how many overseas players can play in its league - as long as it complies with international trade laws - but to allow another layer of bureaucracy where agents take their cut of another layer of transfer money sounds illogical.

So, if I were the SRU for instance, I'd let players who wish to leave do just that so that someone else might pay the bill and a few hundred thousand pounds are freed up to develop players.

And as far as both Edinburgh and Glasgow are concerned, the next bit of spending they'll need to monitor is the signing of overseas players as a quick fix rather than trusting the youngsters coming through.

But international business has to be transparent, and if the New Zealanders really want paying for the players they are losing just now then they should pay billions to the islands from which they have taken players for thirty years.

As for the Welsh, if they want to keep their players, their union needs to cough up more money. It's a free market in rugby players.

Or am I being unfair?


  • Comment number 1.

    As disapointing it is to see our Welsh stars play in France (as we don't get to see them play week in week out then) I can totally understand their reasons. They have to go where the money is as their careers are always going to be shortlived. most players will retire in their early 30s so they must maximise their earning potential when they can.

    The only reason the WRU are concerned is because they have an agreement with the Welsh regions about how many weeks before a game/tournament they can have those players for, which gives them an edge over the other nations.

    This idea of a "transfer fee" is irrelevant as it still wouldn't stop the players leaving. As discussed by John, put the money saved back into up and coming talent, or the academies to strengthen the national resources.

  • Comment number 2.

    These regions have developed these players for a long time invested time money into their proffesional devlopment, and as soon as they reach a certain level they start moving to France or England. It would be nice to have the transfer fee back for them as there is more incentive for these regions to produce and continue to invest in these kids and produce better players.

    John I understand why you are not all that worried about the scottish players and fees involved as Scotland dont seem to produce players capable of playing in the best leagues in the world, well Wales do and I worry about it!

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not sure 'transfer fees' are the way forward but it highlights some issues.
    Countries with a small player pool are really effected by clubs buying their players. In NZ we have enough depth so although it hurts us, we have some talent coming through and we've learnt to prepare for that.

    It's not as simple as 'some other country paying for your players development' you want your best players in your country making the local leagues stronger.

    Let's also remember it wasn't long ago England was jumping up down as France decided to lure top players away.

    And finally please let me offer some more information about the belief of NZ rugby turning up to the Pacific Islands waving contracts to young players. NZ has large numbers of the communities living in NZ (there's more Samoans in NZ than Samoa) . Many come over at school age for better schooling and chance of work. Yes some are offered scholarships for high school but they are almost always NZ based by then. I don't think you can compare that to what we are seeing at an international level. It also goes the other way. Samoa had the highest number of imports in the 2011 WC. Where were they from? Yes NZ born players.

  • Comment number 4.

    What a very strange blog. Do you advise your clients to spend more money than the have available because if so I am sure you are risking your professional status. so how can you do it on a blog? You then compound it by suggesting, for example, the George North is going overseas when he actually he might think about in about 10 years. And to repeat the myth of NZ taking players from the Pacific Islands when, in fact, the opposite is the case just compound the felony. I wouldn't call it unfair - I'd call it misinformation.

  • Comment number 5.

    I can't stop laughing at Murphy9t9 : "Scotland dont seem to produce players capable of playing in the best leagues in the world"

    Please then explain how Ritchie Grey, who would make lions starting 15 according to ever BBC pundit, will play in the Premiership? Nathan Hines playing in the top14 (where all you world class Wales superstars are taking off to) And the numerous players in the the Pro12 who week in week out seem to dominate welsh teams? (please review Glasgow vs Cardiff Blues of this weekend)

    I think what you mean is Scotland produce world class players, but not fake tan brandishing prima-donnas who get kicked off of flights, drive golf carts drunk, or even appear in cheap pawn shop ads....You call that world class? I call it no-class.

  • Comment number 6.

    I as a welsh man in scotland have no sympathy with New Zealand or Wales and for that matter any other nation including Scotland. Who could not deal with a simple game plan, your words john, even with the likes of Denton. Would be good news for Scotland if there is no change or you will be paying quite a bit out in compensation given your track record. I personally think it is no surprise it is a Kiwi whinging about this, albeit one based in Wales. As for North and Roberts the last i had heard they had committed themselves to their respective regions either way doesn't matter. The real cause for concern is the attendance at games has been very low and where ten years ago any international game would have sold out that is no longer the case even in succesful seasons. Question for you john do you think it is appropriate that Scotland are still chasing Shingler even though the IRB have stated that he is not available. Do you guys really want a player who is on record as (tv interview !) saying he wanted to play at full international level for wales then less than twelve months later deciding it's Scotland. when it hits the fan and less face it it does a lot for a team with Scotlands record do you want someone with such commitment issues. Of course the other thing is does a player not scottish born risk the Dan Parks syndrome a man who gave his all even though limited as a player (as a neutral i believe) he gave his all which is something that could not always be said for the native born, so given the way he was villified by the "fan" base are you likely to attract any nations second and third grade players or even the occasional gem like Denton. Every nation benefits from moving players even Fiji Samoa etc, as they pick up players who have done all their develpoment in New Zealand. Which has over the last twenty years, given them more and more structure and technical skills, in areas they were traditionally lacking. Making them icreasingly more competitive in the Fifteen man game as their results show, so this cuts both ways and it is in the kiwi nature to want the cake, eat it and for you to pay for it.

  • Comment number 7.

    Gh89 hines was born and developed as a player in wagga wagga NSW another pick up like denton the scottish system did not produce him unlike say alex corbeisero in england american born of italian stock but raised and developed (developed is the important bit !!) in england

  • Comment number 8.

    I can see both sides of the argument. Yes it frees up the wages of the transferred player from the respective Union and Club/Region/Province to reinvest. However the wages are not the only cost as there will be 'sunk' development costs over the career of the player. That is where the transfer fee is more acceptable, as a payment to cover the costs incurred in creating the player. Otherwise the likes of the Welsh regions and Scottish clubs will be ploughing money into young players to see them freely depart before they are able to return the investment. If the clubs are not successful and able to put out a good team then the prize money, gates and other income opportunities will start to diminish in an ever decreasing spiral.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Born in Borneo", playing for Scotland. A free market is a free market. If WRU cannot pay to keep Welsh players in Wales then let them play wherever they wish

  • Comment number 10.

    From a Welsh point of view, unfortunately the Welsh public just haven't taken to regional rugby the way that the WRU wanted them to. With the national side flying high at the moment with a fairly good RWC followed by a 6N's grand slam, attendances at pro-12 matches has been deplorable.

    An average of about 7600 for an ospreys fixture compares with 20000 when the swans play at the same venue. The blues manage about 7000 at the Cardiff City Stadium compared with 22000 when the Bluebirds are at home. It's a shame that the elite of Welsh Rugby get one third of the attendance that a mid-table championship kissball team get. If the regions had attendances comparable to their footy teams, maybe the Regions could afford to hold on to their stars.

    With the current exodus of talent leaving Wales, it's going to get worse. If the crowds didn't come to watch Byrne, Hook, Jenkins, Phillips et al, they are certainly not going to pay to see their understudies.

  • Comment number 11.

    The French Top 14 is televised on ESPN, about two games a week are shown. And French clubs are in the European Cup too.

  • Comment number 12.

    A load of whinging. Rugby is a professional sport these days and if a player wishes to maximise the money he can make from his talents by playing for a foreign club then good luck.

    It's just economics...which raises an interesting question. This a BBC blog so there is an automatic presumption that Welsh rugby players are uniquely gifted. But are Welsh players good, or simply cheap? Would they be so attractive if there was suddenly some sort of transfer fee involved? Would the clubs simply look into their own development structures for good players. This is not new! Welsh players used to go to play rugby league to earn some money. Now they just move to another union. It's not as if they're lost to the game.

    The old NZ thing about "poaching islanders has been going in circles of accusation and protestation of innocence for years. Pacific Islanders certainly do possess the most suitable physique for modern rugby so it's not surprising that many find their way to New Zealand and into the rugby scene. Again, it's just socio-economics in action. What is slightly more worrying is the growing similarity to pro-boxing in which poor black youngsters trying to make their way get beaten up as entertainment for a largely white audience. I couldn't help but notice at the RWC final that there seemed to be more Polynesians on the pitch than in the crowd.

    It's certainly a bit rich for New Zealand to suddenly get annoyed about the loss of players when it should be a matter of pride that the system generates such a surplus. Then again, we're talking about the same people who vilified England players for being in a "Dwarf Tossing" bar with all its tacky and demeaning connotations, without ever once commenting on the fact that the bar was New Zealand.

  • Comment number 13.

    Im suprised your laughing at my comment! Wasnt intended as a bad punn either, Scotland havent produced any execptional talent for a very long time!
    As in comments above Hines and Denton are not Scottish, Shingler(that situation is na joke).

    If it doe devalue the players with transfer fees then I say thats a good thing we may actually keep our elite players!

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry John, Rugby is slowly turning into Football, The transfer fee is to cancel a footballers contract with another club. Footballs bubble is about to burst, big style, it's only a matter of time Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man Utd, etc, etc are millions in debt to banks, etc. Does Rugby want to go down that road? If so, the good old game of rugby is dead, RIP.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brave blog John, you do realise that it will (has already started to) deviate to the same old argument about nationality and representing "their" country.
    As to your main point, I agree that NZ do have a bit of cheek to suggest this. I also agree that free trade should remain and I think that it will find its own level. There is simply not enough money, or public interest for that matter, in Rugby for it to become another Football.
    When does an employer deem that an employee has paid for all his "on-job training/development? In any industry? Let's face it, when the employee is no longer required, or when he does not come up to scratch, he will be ditched. I have been made redundant more often than I have resigned. So why should professional rugby be any different to other areas of commerce?
    Finally, there does need to be an international agreement BOLTED DOWN AND ADHERED TO concerning player release for internationals. Too many grey areas at the moment, leading to countries sulking if their top players do go abroad. I know there may be inter-hemisphere practicalities involved, that's obvious but common sense should solve that one.

  • Comment number 16.

    its a funny thing free trade. i mean, the welsh teams would probably get much bigger crowds if they were allowed to do their business in the english leagues. of course, they are restricted from doing that...

  • Comment number 17.

    After the display by scotland in the Six Nations, I amazed that they get paid at all! I also would have preferred you to have written about the decision to keep Andy Robinson as national coach John, or are you as crest-fallen as many of us long-suffering fans John?

  • Comment number 18.

    I can see where you are coming from in your argument, however you're missing some important points. You say that the WRU need to invest more, however you don't seem to suggest any method in doing so. The WRU like all businesses at the moment are cash strapped and it simply won't do just telling them to pluck some more capital out of nowhere. Wales already fill the international calendar to the brim just in order to maintain the currently unstable state of the regions.
    At the moment the regions are heavily dependant on outside investors such as Mike Cuddy and Peter Thomas who can't be relied on forever. Welsh regions need to draw in larger crowds if they are to sustain their competitiveness and importantly their academies and development programmes. Sadly however crowds will not be drawn if all of the Welsh stars are playing in France, also as a knock on effect there will be less of a competitive environment in which young players can develop their game. A transfer fee might be a useful way of making sure that a union does not lose out financially after spending years developing a player only for him to leave as soon as soon as the union starts to see a return on its investment.
    Scotland might see a similar problem some day. However Wales have 4 regions, and if all of the region's star players leave there's going to be a lot more of a strain put on the academies to fully replace what was lost as compared to what would be required if only the star players from 2 clubs left.
    And in response to the "Wales v Scotland" debate occuring in the comments section. If at the moment you suggest that Scotland's players are demonstrating more skill and general playing ability than Welsh players I think you are wrong. Wales just won a grand slam, of course there's going to be more interest from French teams geared towards Welsh players than there will be to Scottish players. If in the next 5 years Scotland win a grand slam I fully expect this situation will be reversed, and I'd expect to see many of the commentators here expressing their concern over many irreplaceable Scottish players fleeing to France.

  • Comment number 19.

    In my opinion, an international transfer fee is infeasible. It requires cooperation between the unions, some of whom ,notably England and France don't actually control the clubs. Are the Ospreys expecting the French union, or clubs to pay them? I can't see the FFR paying the WRFU anything. There needs to be either limits on overseas players, although I can't see how this new Irish system can work, or more money in the domestic regions/provinces. If there were no salary cap in England, the biggest wages would be paid in the Premiership and the Top 14. Why? Because they are not Union controlled. Even in New Zealand, where players like Dan Carter are paid very good salaries, they can't compete with an ambitious French team with a big checkbook, just look at Tana Umaga. With regard to the poaching of the best young schoolboys for the Pacific Islands to play in New Zealand, I think it is a disgrace, but due to the worse economic conditions I can understand why the players would want to move. I just hope it stops, because then Fiji, Samoa and Tonga could become real forces in world rugby. I wonder if a global season, with specific international breaks (the 6 nations and tri nations happening simultaneously) would be way to help the Unions situation. That way people playing club rugby on the other side of the globe, Nick Evans, Danny Cipriani etc, would still be available for their national sides, and the Unions just miss out on their presence in the domestic game but not the national team.

  • Comment number 20.

    John - I have always enjoyed your blogs, but the assertion that Wales won a Grand Slam simply due to having Warren Gatland as their coach, a "simple game plan" and a tough fitness regime is absurd. If the British and Irish Lions were to be picked tomorrow, most of the current Wales test xv would be on the plane to Australia, and a lot of them would be looking at a test berth. The trouble Wales will have over the next world cup cycle is hanging on to their accomplished players - it happened in the pre professional era, when Welsh stars headed north, and now it is happening in the professional era, with high paying French clubs being the draw. This is a problem for Wales, and for a few other countries as well.

  • Comment number 21.

    Charlie young
    good points, how about summer rugby improve skill levels across the northern hemisphere ? by the way its WRU. The only thing with money and clubs is you get to a stage that English football has been in for years with the premiership. With cheap (relative to native talent) but good quality imports you get no development and progression and your national teams suffer. The Irish rugby system seems to have some of these developmental problems at the moment their provinces are strong but on closer inspection you realise the front row problems they have can only be linked to how many overseas players they have had in those positions. All the home unions have this problem to a greater or lesser degree even England with all the money and huge player pool to dip into. Wales a poor country in economic terms and player resources will be forced to bring on youngsters once again. Llanelli scarlets were forced to do this a few years ago and we have seen scott williams johnathen davies george north rhys priestland etc coming to the fore and lets not forget the development of one ben morgan so it has some benefits but as a club your chances of a title or cup of any nature are minimal

  • Comment number 22.

    19 "because then Fiji, Samoa and Tonga could become real forces in world rugby", although I see the logic and idealism in your argument, I think that maybe these 3 countries in particular wouldn't improve too much as most of their players and the national teams have actually benefitted by playing abroad. I am no expert in the islands but I don't think they would be able to create (or afford) an infrastructure of a sufficiently high standard to develop their players, attract the coaches/crowds/finance etc etc etc... to reap the rewards on a national level.
    As for the problems faced by Wales and Scotland at a regional level, has it affected the national teams too much? Edinburgh and Glasgow results have improved and the Welsh regions worsened this season in Europe. At odds with Andrew Hore's complaints, seemingly, it has had the opposite effect. Wales have won a Grand Slam with a young home-grown set of players and Scotland has struggled. Let's not forget, he comes from a country that has been professional for many, many more years than all NH countries.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mr Beattie, can you please inform us of all the islanders NZ has poached, I would be happy to know just the top 20 that were developed by the PI and so called poached. It is just I have heard about it for years but cant find the correct information to go along with these statements.

    I hear it all the time but when I ask the simple question for some reason people never reply. I sometime see people quote a player born in say Samoa but when I look into it I find that player was like 4yrs old when they arrive in NZ (Now that is great scouting/poaching) if someone can see that talent at a young age.

    Im not having a go, its just I want to know the correct facts before voicing my thoughts/jumping on the bandwagon. I look forward to your reply

  • Comment number 24.

    It's inevitable that rugby players with a short shelf life want to follow the money , what the narrow minded Welsh should understand that this drift to France is not new.#2 highlight this ,when Welsh players were stuck in Abercwmcustard ,Scots and other outward looking others including Simon Taylor,Scott Murray, Roland Reid ,Marcus Di Rollo were plying their trade in France ,Welsh players are merely playing catch up and it ,ironically will improve their skills playing in the Top 14,sometimes in front of 80,000 in club games at the Stade de France rather than 6-7000 at the various (empty) Welsh grounds.At the national level ,the unintentional loser in the merry go round will be France as the top teams will be full of "etrangers" (sorry I cant translate that into welsh!)
    The idea we we should charge a fee for regions who develop players is risible.What about all those nurses ,graduates we develop who go overseas ,do we charge them etc. Move over Mr Hoare ,there's a big wide world beyond Wales' borders ,we live in a global village and you ca;nt push the tide back.

  • Comment number 25.

    If there isn't central contracting in Wales this summer then we could be heading for some very dark days. In one way Welsh players will still be playing at the top level but they will be no where near competing with the top clubs.

    Personally I think the IRB needs to step in and put the brakes on in France. Its getting out of control.

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't know dates of immigation or inducements and don't care if it falls within the rules it does not matter. If people have a big problem with it change the rules simple as, in the mean time i wish these "professionals" would stop being hypocritical about one another and just get on with it. As for me a lowly supporter i would rather my players give there all because they wanted to not because the money was better playing for france rather than england for instance its all about who will bleed for you and who you will bleed for and in that way New Zealand seem to have it their Foriegn born players with no Parental allegiances (important that as you have no emotional bond to a country) they give all not something that can be said for many others in many countries that we have seen. For examples of that one only has to look at some of the "players" who have represented Italy over the years and compare that with the true italians in Parisse, castrogiavanni etc even when up agaianst these guys do not quit. So if any nation wants that second rate half hearted reject well you get what you deserve.

  • Comment number 27.

    #25 you must be a Sun reading Englishman or Welshman -same thing-you want the "froggies" to be controlled ,I quote a local in my last trip to the Principality. When it comes to rugby France have had enough "brakes" put on them in the past by the (old) anglocentric IRB (which included Wales ,to their shame ).If Welsh clubs cant compete then they go to the wall. Just a thought,if it's the national game in Wales and the national team is successful (which it is) why are no major indigenous companies queuing up to act as a "sugar daddy" to some of the regions. (are there any big welsh companies?)

  • Comment number 28.

    simple answer no not of any true worth the two "sugar daddies" currently in welsh rugby peter thomas for the blues and mike cuddy at the ospreys well in real terms they qualify more as sugar / chocolate mice. The reality is the only way currently forward is for a rich expat (such as the guy who owns celtic manor the ryder cup venue who lives in canada) to step in or for the union to take full control of the regions.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Put the brakes on in France"? I believe they have imposed their own "maximum 30% foreigner" rule in their squads. I wonder whether this or any similar move by the various European Unions contravenes European employment laws? Don't mean to sound picky or pc (believe me, I'm not), but rules is rules, as they say. Anyone noticed, by the way, that although France got to the RWC final last year, they were patchy and were/are going through a confidence crisis in some key positions, notably 9, 10 and 15. There are those in France that are uneasy about the current cherry-picking. To use Johnny Wilkinson as an example, he may be good box-office at Toulon and may well be encouraging young 10s at the club, but is he also holding emerging players back? Only time will tell.

  • Comment number 30.

    Transfer fees are not the way to go, it would impose a financial burden on the sport that it can not afford and result in money leaking out of the sport rather than staying in it. The answer lies in positive action not negative responses, Wales and the Regions must accept that some players will always want to travel (why wouldnt you want to ply your trade in the South of France?) as must bigger nation such as England. But more must be done to generate more cash for the smaller nations generally to enable them to keep control over more stars, which is easier for the likes of Scotland and Wales than say the South Sea Islands. This means a focus on marketing, developing the product further and expansion - as an earlier post pointed out attendances at welsh regional matches are very poor in comparison to Soccer matches, even second tier soccer matches. The answer will be years in the making but positive action has to be the answer anything else may just leave domestic playertrlap playing at home because no on will pay the transfer fees but the underlying problems of poor finances and dwindling crowds will still be there. I'd start with replacing the Lions tour (which we all love but generates no cash for the NH Unions and, hard though it is to say, no longer has a place in the professional era) with a 16 nation European championship to broadly benefit European rugby

  • Comment number 31.

    Interesting that the Welsh are moaning about this. Looking at the Cardiff squad, will they be paying out for, Tito, Blair, Laulala, Rush, Molitika etc? All the Welsh regions have imported players.

    You cant choose to bring in foriegn players on big money then complain that your own players are being taken away on big money, reeks of hypocracy, there are numerous Scotish players who have played in Wales, where should we send the invoice?

    Personally I dont mind Scottish players going abroad, it often makes them better players and allows room for others to come in. Strokosh and Lawson being the best examplesa, they improved imesurably when they went to Gloucester and allowed the likes of Laidlaw to come through.

  • Comment number 32.

    Dolf ?
    It is not the welsh complaining it is one man who is actually a Kiwi he works at the Ospreys who have lost a lot "tough" i say and they have moved on already. On the international scene it is the kiwis pushing for this financial compensation notice a pattern here. As for the foreign players in wales yeah they have them as everywhere else does how many are brought in on the hope they will play for wales well who knows ( as far as i am aware the only one in recent years who had a chance to play for wales and chose not to was ben morgan and at least he was dveloped by the scarlets unlike any number of so called scots) lets just say that if they do the numbers do not come close to that of Scotland and italy in the northern hemisphere

  • Comment number 33.

    As a Welshman I am gutted to see some of our top quality players leaving Wales to go play in France but i cannot blame them, no player wants to play in front of an empty crowd week in week out while their regions fight with the WRU. Ever since Hook managed to negotiate his contract with Perpignan to allow him to leave for internationals it has paved the way for others to follow in his suit (however it grinds my gears to see everyone practically boarding Jamie Roberts on a flight to france, everyone seems to forget that he is currently reading Medicine at Cardiff uni so won't be leaving Wales for a bit)
    I'd like to see more support for Welsh regions and bigger crowds, maybe that might generate a larger income in the clubs to allow them to invest in keeping players in Wales.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can't see Hore's proposals ever working in an era of professional players being contracted to clubs / regions. There is a plausible theory that players leaving Wales for the money has been a bigger problem historically than England or Scotland because in those countries it was a 'game for gentlemen' whereas in Wales it was played across the entire social spectrum (although obviously everyone are gentlemen in Wales regardless of class). In the professional era players, regardless of nationality, will be looking to make a decent living out of their 10-12 years and who can blame them. At least they're staying in union now as opposed to going to league! Reality is that the best Welsh, English, Irish and Ritchie will be heading towards France or wherever the money is.
    Mr Hore would do better concentrating on how to build support. This is a challenge because Welsh rugby was so much based on playing local rival clubs and occasionally those in South West England.
    And presumably Scotland didn't win the grand slam because Andy Robinson isn't Warren Gatland, the players can't follow a simple game plan and had a fitness regime for wussies? You've solved it! Why aren't you Scotland's coach?

  • Comment number 35.

    #10 akarataff, the reason Cardiff City get 3 times as many fans as the Blues has nothing to do with where players play their rugby. Despite the history of Cardiff Rugby, Cardiff is a foootball dominated city and always will be - when you see kids in Cardiff kicking a ball it is almost certain to be round.

    It will be interesting to see the long term effect of players going abroad on the Welsh national team. Given that roughly 5 of the starting XV in each of the four regions are from elsewhere, if every Welsh player stayed in wales, that is a pool of 40 players playing first team rugby to pick from. Current evidence suggests that having such a small selection pool helps the team, but what happens in the future if all 4 regions select a big name import in the same position (e.g. 9, 10 or at prop). We saw the effect that it can have on the Ireland team at Twickenham.

  • Comment number 36.

    dolf_lundgren @31................. I've read most of the comments and don't see many Welsh moaning at this, the article was written by a Scotsman!

    In Wales, we have to accept that some of our top players will want to play in other leagues where the standard of rugby will be higher and as one other poster noted, France will be the team that suffers as the top positions will be filled with "foreigners".

    If it means that our top players play overseas and we keep on winning Grand Slams then bring it on........... I couldn't care less which country Mike Phillips plays in or which McDonalds he gets thrown out of, because the moment he steps out of the limelight there will be "homegrown" talent waiting to take his place .............. and the merry-go round will continue!

  • Comment number 37.

    Within Wales you're not simply going to be able to magically get more people to turn up to regional rugby matches no matter how much money you pump in to it. The reason being is that Wales is not a regional rugby country like Ireland. It was brought up on club rugby. Do you honestly think you're going to get all the Bridgend supporters suddenly cheering for the Ospreys? or the Ponty supporters paying to go and see the Blues?? It's not a case of following the players, you follow your club. If you want to find your crowds, go and watch some Welsh premiership matches, thats where the die hards are, and have always been.

  • Comment number 38.

    Leaving to play abroad may provide players with some extra cash but there is always a flip-side to the issue.

    When a player frees-up a slot in the structure by leaving, he like as not sows the seeds of his own demise by allowing a newer, probably younger player to flourish. It's not quite the same thing but you only have look at what has happened to Gavin Henson to see this is action. Take yourself out of the fray and you're very quickly yesterdays man and, in Gavin's case, become something of an embarrassment. He was a good player but he has been completely eclipsed.

    In England, James Haskill used to be a shoe-in for a back row place. Then he went to Stade Francais. Now he has made himself unavailable for a year and gone off to play in Japan and New Zealand. A wonderful thing to be able to do and a great experience but, frankly, England have not struggled in his absence and have discovered several excellent back row players in the meantime, particularly in Ben Morgan. Had Haskill stayed at home, Morgan would have never got his start. Now he has a mountain to climb and I seriously suspect that we won't see him again on anything other than the subs bench.

    Nobody is indispensable!

  • Comment number 39.

    If I were a Welsh fan I'd be really concerned about the provincial situation, but what can be done? Pontypridd, Newport and Neath can not stand up to the Irish provinces and French Clubs. So you either go back to that and withdraw from the Magners, not a good step for the national team.

    Or stick with it and have Wales international subs, playing in strongish sides in front of empty crowds while the strongest players are raking in the french lolly. On a plus note there is good coverage of the French top 14, you can see your heros there.

  • Comment number 40.

    Rugby is getting closer and closer to soccer, it is so OBVIOUS in France though...
    In my Country, people who don't know the sport talk about the values, fair play, and so on.
    Sorry, but frankly Rugby has changed, some of the goods are disapearing slowly but surely.
    So I am maybe a bit pessimistic, but MONEY spoils, end of story!

  • Comment number 41.

    Don't see what the problem is here, it is a free market for the players and they choose to go to where the money is, they do after all have a relatively short playing career.
    Surely it can only make them better players in the long run anyway, playing alongside other world class / high calibre players.
    As a long suffering Scotland fan I usually welcome the sight of a few exiles in the squad.

  • Comment number 42.

    13.At 16:28 2nd Apr 2012, murphy9t9

    I didn't start any Wales bashing but feel compelled to reply to your Scottish rugby bashing.

    The Welsh regions have struggled in the H'cup and Magners/Rabo league in last few years in comparison to the national team success. Now that Ospreys have slashed their wage bill and play an almost unidentifiable team to last season it will be interesting to see if they can stay in top 4 next year with strong Ulster and improving & investing Glasgow.

    With Vernon, Brown, Strokosch, Gray, Evans, lawson etc and many more playing in other leagues it does make space for likes of Hogg, Rennie, Fusaro, Laidlaw, Dunbar and also many more to gain 1st team experience and prove themselves, currently happening. I think that this seems to be working for Scottish club rugby with Edinburgh in qtrs of H'cup and Glasgow looking to make play offs with best defence in league and fewest defeats outside Leinster. If only we had Gatland too then it might be a different story at national level.

    Enjoy your moment but don't be cocky as it might not be long until you are back to the 80's/90's and getting knocked out WC's at the group stages. I personally hope Wales regions stay strong as the Rabo Direct needs to be competitive and does arguably have best attacking style of all European leagues.

    p.s. I did think Lydiate getting player of 6N's was a prime example of Welsh punditry bias at BBC. He had outstanding game against France but was average in rest..his highlights reel showed this too. Jonathan Davies is very unlikeable and shows blatant feelings of resentment for Scotland. Think he has a chip on his shoulder from the past ;)

  • Comment number 43.

    Events move faster than John's blog...Riki Flutey is moving back to New Zealand. I've always been fairly relaxed about foreign born players pulling on national shirts. For one thing, where do you draw the line without appearing as some creepy racial obsessive? My own rule was always that a player had to have genuinely moved to and settled in the new country. To those ends, players like Mike Catt or more recently Dylan Hartley are fine. Some players like Henrik Fourie came to to England to go to university and never left. You have a hard job in declaring them not worthy of representing their adopted country.

    Riki Flutey completely breaks all the ethics to my mind. He played in England to qualify on residency rules, even making loud statements about his "new home". He got his contract and the money, then promptly decided he was French and went to play for Brive. Back at Wasps he has suffered injury and poor form and isn't close to the England team. So suddenly he's a Kiwi again and will take his family back to New Zealand before playing out the rest of his career in Japan for one last payday.

    I'm even willing to bet he'll earn some TV money talking about how dreadful rugby is in England to an eager audience!

    I've no objection to players following the money but to so shamelessly pursue the cash available at international level sticks in the throat when national honours clearly mean nothing. The international mercenaries should be restricted to club rugby if they want to earn a living. I would stretch the qualifying residency period to four years to concentrate minds!

  • Comment number 44.

    All that is needed is simple eligibility rules that do not change from country to country and then whether a player moves abroad or not makes no difference.

    The Shingler incident shows that the current rules are a farce. One year earlier if he had played for Wales u20, he would have remained eligible for Scotland (because Wales A team was the designated second team), the year he did play it rendered him ineligible solely because Wales had disbanded their A side. It does not matter what the rule is as long as it is clear and consistent, my view is that once you have played for either the national side or the senior national A side that is it, any other national age group teams do not count

  • Comment number 45.

    Professionals follow the money, always have always will. That's what it means to be professional you get paid to do it and baring a few exceptions most will always follow the pound/euros to their next clubs. Happened for years in England pre-salary cap with Scots, Irish and Welsh internationalists heading there as it paid more than their previous clubs. Just so happens that now France is the place with the biggest cheque book and Wales has the most 'hot properties' on offer.

    The Celtic leagues will never be able to stand up to the financial clout the English or French league can command just by population numbers and the number of people willing to go to the games (or pay for a TV package). Best way to deal with this is to adapt you game plan accordingly to deal with this. Certainly I've felt Scotland have benifitted from taking this approach rather than the ludicrous 'Fortress Murrayfield' idea of the past where we spent too much money and further narrowed our talent pool.

    The transfer fee idea is simply impractical to many differences between controlling unions and clubs. Also who can justify who had the most in a players development e.g. Dan Parks arrived in Scotland as an amatuer player but was developed as a pro by Glasgow. Should the money go to them or his original club back in Oz? It's stretching the point but players don't always just play for the one team and who can claim they had the most influence on them? Also would you have to return the "transfer fee" should they ever decide to come back later on again by example look at the Lamont brothers?

    As for Scotland having no players that anyone wants is stretching it a bit when you have the likes of Nikki Walker, Kelly Brown, Ritchie Vernon, Joe Ansbro, Euan Murray, Both Lawsons, Stroks, Bennett, etc all plying their trade in other leagues and for some have been doing it for quite some time. Bet there will be a few looking at the likes of Hogg in the near future as well.

    Actually as an aside and maybe you can tell us John what JB Jnr has planned at the end of the season, are there any clubs that he is in discussion with the looks towards a move in the summer after he finishes with the Warriors?

  • Comment number 46.

    Since when has it been a crime to offer poor Islanders a scholarship which educates them and gives them more opportunities in life even if they don't become a professioanl rugby player?

    Also, your understanding of NZ's pillaging of the Islands is ridiculous. Stick to scrutinising scottish rugby as your article is ridiculous. The only Islander of note who played for the All Blacks in the last 10 years who wasn't brought up there but qualified through residency was Sitiveni Sivivatu. Otherwise all were born and or brought up there. So there should be no qualms. It is other countries who seem to welcome 25 years olds who qualify through residency...not New Zealand.

    Also it may not be a world wide problem, (because it doesn't effect England and France yet) but it affects most other countries. I think you would think differently if all the England and Scottish Internationals 'did a Cipriani' and went down to the Super 15, hence making them ineligable for the Six Nations. Its all relative. If the IRB wants to have a global game...that means protection is needed too. The transfer fee is a good idea and should be looked into.

  • Comment number 47.

    Unfortunately the game has moved on in the professional era to such an extent that it is starting to head towards the football mentality - anything for a win see dean richards for evidence - money is the driver behind it however we as fans have to take some of the resposibility as we want the best players playing the best brand of rugby (sorry hate that phrase!). Where that is the case in a pro era then the larger clubs and nations will always prevail due to their fiscal power. Pretty much all pro sports are the same, the best players play for the biggest (and not necessarily the best) teams. No control can be put on it, it is how professionalism works and as long as clubs work within a sensible fiscal framework they will not go bust (learn the lesson from football Please).

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't see the problem with this. As long as the attendances don't drop it can only be beneficial. Welsh players will go to France and play in a competitive league with the some of the worlds best players whilst our young-uns are getting a chance and game time to prove themself at home against the irish, scottish and italians. As long as the balance of older and younger players remains it can be more positive then everyone is making out. After all, Toby Faletau, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Scott Williams, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Lloyd Williams, Jonathan Davies and Rhys Webb are all 24 or under and have been given their chance and performed.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't know. Maybe I'm missing something when people are talking about Welsh players going to better leagues when five of the eight quarter finalists of the HC are from the Rabo 12 League.

  • Comment number 50.

    Spot on

    New Zealand should be punished, the best rule is simply to say that country of birth is who you play for and forget this residency nonsense

    yes England would lose Tuilagi, but we'd gain, North, Cuthbert, and Jon Davies, so it all balances out in the end - come to think of it the only people that would really suffer under this model would be new zealand... funny that.

    @49. - they only try in the HC, in fact the whole season is geared to try and win it, whilst the english and the french (who have relegation) are busy knocking seven bells out of each other week in week out.

  • Comment number 51.

    #43/44, I think there is a big difference between the nationality debate, and the debate about considering players who play outside of their domestic league.

    In the former case it is a matter for the IRB - personally I would like to see the rules tightened up a bit, possibly along the same lines used for club quotas in football. So for example a player would need to live in their adopted country for a certain number of years before their 21st birthday to qualify on residency.

    The issue of not picking players who play outside of their domestic league is simply a matter for the union involved, particularly as it comes down to politics, club vs country arguments and practicality.
    NZ's policy almost cost them a world cup (would France have run them so close if Nick Evans had been at 10), they are entitled to try to protect their home league, but that doesn't mean the same policy should be forced on other countries. In your example Flutey was still available to England while playing in France, whether his club contract was compatible with the demands on an England player is a matter for the RFU and England management, but not the IRB.

  • Comment number 52.

    A couple of inaccuracies in previous comments. The main comparison in terms of transfer fees relates to football and despite the Bosman ruling, there are still mammoth transfer fees around.

    Back to the issue of Welsh rugby by the BBC Scottish rugby correspondent. So far this season it is without question that rugby crowds are down in Wales, however there are a few mitigating factors. This is a World Cup season, the Ospreys are set to have 16 home games this season, of which only 7 of those games are with our Welsh Internationals, clearly this is a big consideration when buying a season ticket, that over half the games are with depleted squads or with effective reserve teams.

    This is shown that games with our "full side" have averaged 8,500 and "reserve games" around 5,500, if we had our full side available for all the season, crowds would be better than the 7,000 average this year, which is well down on last year. Clearly crowds have been effected by the above factors, and in the Ospreys case, the Premier League football alternative of the Swans. Even the Blues have competition from Championship football.

    For the regions there needs to be a better balance between the national side, which is far too much dominated towards the national side at the moment.

    As to the Ospreys themselves, the majority of players have already left and already promising youngsters are coming through, e.g. Webb, Dirksen, Beck and Tiperic, so we should have a good team which could do better than great players who were seldom a team.

    No one can blame players taking much higher paid jobs in France, and having a different life experiences, and come back richer, both in terms of money and life experience, and possibly better players as well.

  • Comment number 53.

    The clubs/regions may have spent time and money developing these players, but they only sign them to short term contracts (2 or 3 years usually). Most of the players who are leaving for France are out of contract - they are not being poached and encouraged to break their contracts.
    If the clubs wish to keep hold of their "investment" they should commit to longer contracts but the risks are too great;
    - promising young players can fail to fulfil their promise
    - players accumulate injuries over the years that slow them down and stop them being the top player they were
    - clubs finances are always precarious so they don't want long term contracts

    All of these are valid business reasons for short contracts but they then can't claim compensation for players who are no longer in their employ.

  • Comment number 54.

    #50 restricting players to their country of birth is a non-starter, try telling Simon Shaw that he should play for Kenya, or O'Gara that he should play for the USA.

    Players should be able to play for their country of birth, or that of either parent, but should not be able to qualify based on a grandparent.
    Either ditch residency completely, or insist that a player lived in their adopted country for at least 5 years before the age of 21. That way players get to play for the nation where they grew up (e.g. Faletau, Tuilangi), but excludes players who chose to play under a flag of convenience.

    Good point about priorities and the Heineken Cup though, although it has hard to know whether last years final would have gone the same way if the Saints had not played an Aviva semi-final against Leicester the previous week, it is certainly the case that the Celtic league teams put more emphasis on the HC than the English clubs.

  • Comment number 55.

    #42 can't say i like johnathen davies very much ( as a welsh man i prefer brian moore and so miss bill maclaren) however in his defence he did not win many games in a welsh shirt but he was a winner against the scots.
    #54 i would hardly describe faletau as a player flying a flag of convenience, he moved to wales as a young boy as his dad was playing in wales unlike Mouritz Botha Tuilagi and the not so missed Flutey his accent is of the country in which he plays having done all his age group rugby there. As one wag previously mentioned a number of the current Welsh crop were born in England (as were my kids oh the shame ;-) ) but you cannot forget that their parents/ parent were not, and these guys came through the welsh system and more than a few speak welsh. On a final note Cuthbert was interviewed before the opening 6N game by the English media and when asked if he considered playing for England his response was a very quick and emphatic no. Which is why i stated in a previous post, that a player of worth will only give his all in a game if he has an emotional bond to the country for which he plays,which is why Ben Morgan chose correctly not to play for wales and rightly selected England his birth place and where he was raised, regardless of the development at the Llanelli scarlets. How often do we see players without that bond get selected and as good as they maybe when that stuff hits the fan they give up far easier than the homegrown, or those with the bond which ties you in ways that cannot be taught. As for residency rules wales had those long before they became an IRB rule and yet G Henry got around them and his grannygate scandal is this a kiwi thing do as i say not as do ??

  • Comment number 56.

    Ok so when do you draw the line Faletau moved to Wales at Seven Dylan Hartley (the gouging biter soon to be england captain apparently) moved to england when he was fourteen oh yes i know his mum was english we can all quote cases we have issues with but at the end of the day it's the IRB who make the rules and with this subject they have made as much of a pile of brown steaming stuff as they have with the rules at the scrum and breakdown.

  • Comment number 57.

    As a former rugby player/coach/referee i can understand the frustration on seeing your best players leave, However, we ALL [Welsh supporters] have to take some responsibility in relation to the affordability of players wages and contracts etc. Lets look at the top English and Irish teams and see the support they get on a Saturday afternoon and compare it to the Welsh Regions, we come a very poor second in that area!! We can blame the clubs for their marketing, sales etc etc but this is Wales!!! Rugby is our National sport, if we really want to stop our players going overseas then we have to support our regions fully, the greater revenue we generate the more healthier the clubs become thus the knock on effect of better sponsorship etc we currently play a profession sport but in an amateur environment, can you blame players for securing their futures, or clubs cutting their loses to avoid what happened to the Crusaders RL Team, the answer is no, and is it a bad thing!! take a look at what is happening with the Scarlet's i think the average age is 15!!!! joking aside they have developed their team with their future looking quite bright, but reality is that they will lose the likes of north to another club but he will still be available for Wales, and as long as these players like charter's secure their international playing windows in their contracts then their is no issue, and sadly there is no way Mr Hore can complain especially with the oversea players they have had at the once regarded galacticos!!!!!

  • Comment number 58.


    You guys really do have something burning you up about Dylan Hartley don't you? Was this why all the pre-match ballyhoo last year was how the canny Welsh forwards were going to wind up this volatile player? As I recall he played a blinder and Wales got beat (line break by Flood puts Ashton in under the posts if you've expunged it from your memory). Wasn't there some kind of dust-up with the Blues in the past?

    Anyway...there's nothing wrong with Dylan Hartley but there's plenty wrong with Stephen Ferris who is emerging as one of the great "objectionables" of the game.

    Dylan Hartley moved to England when he was a schoolboy. He qualifies on ancestry. He qualifies on residency. He qualifies on being developed in the English system. So does Faletau (except the ancestry bit) so I don't see what your problem is?

  • Comment number 59.

    #55 I specifically pointed out that the rules should distinguish the likes of Faletau from those flying a flag of convenience. On a less balanced note, you seem quick to accuse Tuilangi of having no connection to England, despite the fact that he has been here since he was 14.

  • Comment number 60.

    @Truerugby and other Kiwis

    Can you please explain Sitiveni Sivivatu as you keep claiming you never poach Pacific Island players?? He moved to NZL at 17 and even played for the Pacific Island team!. He wasn't even three years resident in NZL before going on an All Black trial!! As with the BOD incident you like to put the blinkers on conveniently when it suits you and deny all knowledge! Otherwise you produce phenomenial players and I am a big fan of your rugby style.

  • Comment number 61.

    My analysis of attendances at Welsh regions compared to Irish provinces, compensated by greater capacity & attendance at Millennnium compared to Lansdowne Rd, would indicate that the top level money available in Wales is probably not materially different from Ireland. The latter have evolved a more effective structure for retaining players at home; Wales should surely follow suit. Moreover better regional performance would no doubt attract more spectators and revenue in a virtuous circle. On a broader level equal access should be given to ALL international players, otherwise the lesser nations (I don't mean Wales, Scotland & Ireland, rather Georgia and Romania for instance, and Argentina have greater release problems too) will never develop satisfactorily if rugby union is grow as an international sport.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58. Anglophone wrote: "Anyway...there's nothing wrong with Dylan Hartley"
    Not according to the IRB citings panel. Two top tier level offenses one for biting and the other for gouging would suggest he has 'issues'. He can be an excellent player when on his game but these sort of offenses are inexcusable. If he's not careful he'll be the new Danny Grewcock and get cited/carded/pinged every week just on reputation alone.

  • Comment number 63.

    anglophone - Dylan Hartley is a disgrace to the game. There is no place for eye gouging or biting in the game end of story and the IRB lenient penalties are even more laughable. We wont even mention his off field antics as it just further confirms what type of person he is. As for Steven Ferris -What are you talking about???? Would you not inform the ref is someone bit you in a match. Oh and when he was cited for his 'spear tackle' - he was exonerated and the committee acknowledged it wasnt even a penalty.

  • Comment number 64.

    have no problem with hartley excellent player with a very good shout for the lions spot and england deserving winners in that game. Surprised you bought into the childish mind games of the welsh coach the english camp did not, as for ferris cannot agree with you sounds like you dislike him for telling the truth, my point on hartley is do england really want him for captain with his record and the statement by some of the england coaching team seemed to insinuate that he should be considered a changed man from the gouger as he has grown up and is a potential england captain so grown up to bite ?
    my point on it all stands regardless of whom they are and when they moved to the countries. As long as the countries abide by the IRB rules does it matter what age and when, it is down to the individual countries and their choices. This has been going on in all countries from the very beginnings of the international game for history buffs remember prince oblonsky a russian for england, it is of no real concern to anyone what another country does other than the occupants of said country. If we as natives of our respective countries are happy to be represented by the players who have arrived on our shores by other means than birth so what, some will give every fibre of their being others well as i have stated before their performances speak for themselves and that is down to the coach/manager/selectors to deal with. As a welshman i can only look on in envy at the player base and money in england and with those (largest in the game i am told) options it just makes the rest of us non english note how many "seemingly foreign" players england pick up when they have such a pool to pick from, this is why it always comes back to those guys playing in white and people rarely mention the "foreign" players playing for the small nations. It is kind of like being the only billionaire in town and borrowing a Hundred quid from the local taxi driver we don't think to ask why only to react to it in the "that don't make sense" way so lets leave it with the coaches and the IRB and stop using it to assault other countries which it always seem to come down to on this forum Humour is great but some people out there just take it to serious and then go to far we all claim to love the game well lets concentrate on that if you or i have problems with the game it is the IRB and our respective unions we should be abusing

  • Comment number 65.

    If this happened Scotland could make money out of it. We'd probably be a net exporter of talent - really only our best players are in demand, and they'd probably command bigger transfer fees than the guys we tend to import. Think Richie Gray versus Tom Ryder, for example. Tom Ryder is a very good player, don't get me wrong, but he wouldn't be worth the same as Richie Gray in most people's eyes. It could also motivate and fund grass roots development in smaller countries such as Scotland or Wales - Manchester United have made tidy money out of their ability to develop players then ship them on when theor egos have got too big

  • Comment number 66.

    1) If employers are so worried about losing the talent that they develop, then why not reflect that in the lengths of contract that they sign?

    2) Inevitably, nationals of smaller countries will have to move elsewhere for opportunities; the pool of opportunities in their own country is just too small (and similarly, the pool of available players is too small for the clubs there). I was not concerned about going to work in England when I started out, and I see no reason why a rugby player should not have the same opportunities.

    3) I am more concerned about the ability of the 'rich' unions to buy players, at the expense of the smaller unions, and then, over time, qualify them through residency. I think time spent playing professional rugby on a work visa should not count for residency purposes. I am looking at this from the point of view of the Asian Five Nations, by the way, which is heavily skewed by the fact that Japan is the only team in the competition with a professional league...


  • Comment number 67.

    64 Jkirkpatrick

    It sounds like we are in passionate agreement here i.e yes to naturalised players, no to mercenaries but we are bound by the IRB rules so let's just get on with it. In fairness England are generally on the end of 90% of the flak on this issue.

    On Hartley, as said above, I would never condone biting and see that the RFU had no option other than to punish him for this offence. Then again, there's biting and biting. My dad told me once of an England forward leaving the pitch in a game in the 1950s against Wales because he had been bitten on the cheek and need stitches. That's biting. Mike Tyson spat out his gumshield and bit off part of Evandor Holyfield's ear. That's biting.

    Ferris got nipped on the finger because it was inside Hartley's mouth. Trying to rip someone's mouth is also an offence in the game but, knowing Ferris I suspect that he was employing it to stop Hartley getting back up at the breakdown and got warned off! Both players being silly really but not the crime of century. It's not as if Ferris doesn't have previous!

    Dylan Hartley is some way off being England captain. Chris Robshaw is the incumbent and hardly facing the sack. He's in the tricky position of not being the best flanker in England but were he to be replaced then in all probability Tom Wood (who is the best flanker in England) would be captain as originally mooted.

  • Comment number 68.

    Its interesting as soon as there is any discussion all the old points come out. New Zealanders poaching pacific island players, Scotland not producing enough quality players, Wales having beaten every other side being branded as arrogant, England finally getting their act together being lambasted for finally trying different players.

    I firmly believe that players should only play for a country if they have a solid link whether it be parents, country of birth or schooling. This residency rule should be scrapped - This does mean that certain players would no longer qualify to play for their countries - Fourie - England being one example however it would mean that Manu Tualagi, Faletau and Denton would play for England, Wales and Scotland (Maybe wrong about Denton).

    I think Wales have finally got their youth policy right and the club, regional rugby setup has been geared up properly and is now producing talented individuals. The problem in Scotland and I've said this before is that the club scene has been eroded to the extent that there is no real youth policy in Scotland. The previous strength of rugby in Scotland was predominantly based in the Borders however due to economic issues and lack of promotion it has dwindled. I've been to Hawick RFC a few times and you can see the issues at that club and I've been told that it's the same across the Borders. A friend of mine's little brother played for Scotland U21s/U20s(??) and I saw the side beat England at Northampton he was propping Ross Ford. He no longer plays rugby as he was not encouraged, not looked after and as result lost interest. Scotland need to look at the grass roots - at the moment the roots are rotten! England and Wales need to be careful to not become complacent.

    As far as players moving clubs or going abroad - they have a contract. There contract expires and then they can do what ever they like - it is a commercial arrangement. All the unions can do is encourage them to ensure that clauses are put in their contracts or give the main players central contracts.

    Rugby and your country is an emotive subject and I want my country to beat all the rest but rugby needs evolve and move forward. That is the responsibility of all the unions and the IRB. However lets try not to be too parochial in our views as it will be too easy to say something inappropriate or get upset by something.

    However lets continue the good ol' banter which is the bit I absolutely love about rugby.

  • Comment number 69.

    Not heard that hartley had an "irish probe inserted orally" as an ex prop myself i understand the need to retaliate (and did often but i played at lower level and at a time when things were overlooked much easier) however that is not the game any longer the smart move would not to have bitten the "doctors" pinky finger with his previous record he is going to be the target of wind ups and provocation and this incident shows he may be a potential flaw in the side as for all his talent, no team can afford a sin bin or sending off, the right response was to follow grahame's (another lions shoe in as forwards coach) instruction and destroy the pathetic scrummage its been creaking for years glad someone finally smashed it.

  • Comment number 70.

    Anglophone in agreemnt re: Mercenaries of which Flutey/tuilangi are obvious examples. Comparing Flutely with a Welsh player who just happend to be born on the Herefordshire/Gloucester/Shropshire side of the border because thats where the nearest maternity unit happend to be is like. Incidentally there's talk of western Hereford ceding back into Wales, which it was always traditionally a part of, but I accept that propbably has as much to do with free NHS prescriptions as anything else!! ;)

  • Comment number 71.

    RedGrandSlam, why is Tuilangi and obvious example of a Mercenary - he has lived in England since he was 14 - largely I guess because his brothers were already here, very similar to Faletau who came here at a younger age because his father played for Ebbw Vale.
    As I have already said, I would like to see the rules tightened up, but until then England should pick the best players available to them under the rules. So long as they don't have to resort to fictional relatives. As long as everybody sticks to the rules, there is no problem - depressing that #64 seems to be calling for different standards to be applied to different nations.

    At the risk of going back on topic, players are free to play their club rugby wherever they want. It is a matter for the individual unions to decide how to respond, my own view is that as long as a player secures release for training and games as part of their contract, they should be available.

    If Wales want to keep their best players, they need to either find a way for the clubs to pay more or pay them centrally. Failing that they could try to blackmail them into staying by threatening to drop them from the national team, but it is not a good solution.

  • Comment number 72.

    On the contrary if you read that which i wrote, evidently not clearly enough for you i will reiterate my stance. I do not care whom so ever plays for which ever country they so choose the only issue i have is with the IRB and its rules and the way in which they are enforced to ALL nations equally thats the point of sport after all my nation should have and even may have been over the ridiculous "grannygate" I want to see clear and concise rules and should any nation choose a non native born do not care about that either if scotland had fourteen aussie and kiwi don't care same goes for england the only one i care about is my country and on that basis i do not want players coming to wales and being selected for wales just because in their own countries they are plainly not good enough. As i have previously stated if you have no emotional bond to that country for which you play (i admit some not all) when the brown stuff hits the fan they quit as a small nation supporter we have been often deep in it and i prefer to see my team go down with dignity and heart rather switching off and letting it happen. Is that clear enough 1 the IRB is at fault for this 2 The IRB for the breakdown 3 The IRB for the scrummage 4 The IRB for the standards of international referees something all nations have suffered from ( no i am not whinging about Warburton he got what the law says he should so it was a good call)

  • Comment number 73.

    #72 as I have said further up, my personal view is that the laws should be tightened up So in that sense, I completely agree with you- the only difficulty is where you draw the line. It is annoying to hear some posters on this board using nationality for England (not you directly, although your post did appear to condone targetting England because it has a bigger player base).

    The one thing I would question is the impact of "emotional bond" on performance. Over the years I have seen players English born and bred who were more interested in promoting themselves than in playing for the team, or who didn't fancy it when times got tough. Equally I have seen "imported" players giving everything for their adopted side. While as fans we love the idea of the players we follow fighting for the cause, whether it is a club side or a national side, the truth is that the level of emotional attachment is not required in order to put in a performance. If it is in somebody's character to stand up when put under pressure, they will do so regardless on what colour shirt they are wearing.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have no problem with guys wanting to move to a different club country for better money and life experience. Transfer fees are a non starter. As a Welshman I want to see he top players playing in my supported region, but if they can't afford to pay what the market will pay them, then thats life. If the WRU wants to do something about it, then why don't they use some of the record profits to keep the talent in Wales.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ok bloody computers
    John i do not condone attacking any single nation my point about england was that with its player base the perception from outside is skewed and people from smaller nations seemingly cannot understand why they would choose to select the foreign player i do not care personally it is their choice as i keep saying within the rules you do what you like.
    I agree to a point about the character of players both import and native there are exceptions to all rules. I would however, say that i believe (personal view) the quality of imports varies greatly from country to country and seems to be directly in proportion to the destination countries economic strength, another reason why england in my view unfairly cops for it on this point in much the way as the kiwis do in relation to the islands. England has had many players from many countries i remember Dewi Morris playing for england born and raised in mid wales not then a rugby stronghold however he started playing in the english league and opted for england good luck was my attitude, he was never going to be picked for wales. Yet some of my country men would happily have strung him up, he being a classic example of someone who gave everything for the shirt. So when you get people whinging about who has who and where they came from there is a lot of jealousy, on the flip side economics also attracts a flutey, who suddenly after three kids needs a support network for the fourth (not really about the fact he is unlikely to be capped again ?)


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