England: Loophole for selection of overseas-based players for national side still exists

Chris Ashton
Toulon-based Chris Ashton won his last England cap in 2014

The loophole which allows England to select overseas-based players is still in existence, but will only apply in the event of a significant injury crisis.

The BBC has learned the "exceptional circumstances" clause applies if there are no internationally-experienced players based in England available to head coach Eddie Jones.

However it would require an unprecedented injury situation in a certain position before Jones could select overseas players.

A player's good form is not considered reason enough for selection.

Since 2012, the RFU have ruled that the England coach cannot select players based outside England, for example in the French Top 14.

However the non-selection of French-based players is again on the agenda, with Toulon's Chris Ashton scoring a hat-trick for the Barbarians in the 63-45 defeat of England on Sunday.

Ashton also smashed the Top 14 try-scoring record this season, and has voiced his intent to again play for his country.

But while the RFU and Premiership clubs are both in agreement over the selection policy, the "exceptional circumstances" stipulation has up until now been ambiguous.

However the parties have now moved to define the ruling, which is designed to encourage the likes of Ashton to return to England before they can realistically expect to be in contention for international selection.

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