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Conundrum Coming for England

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri Feb 24, 2023 6:11 pm

Few bits and pieces from various sources now raising their heads around England selection closely linked to the prl and clubs and inevitably money. With the reduction in salary cap, clubs going under and a few more fringe England players trying their luck abroad were suddenly getting to a point where first team England players could be playing for French teams excluding them from England rather than just guys like Abendanon.

The rule has always been a bit of a 2 way benefit helping keep down player salaries for English clubs while offering the rfu a way to get more access than international windows allows and also a bit more power over how the players are used. Is it about to come to an end though? Players are now looking for the guaranteed money, people like Genge openly speaking out a out salary caps and the following from Borthwick:

'England head coach Steve Borthwick has urged the Rugby Football Union to rethink its overseas selection policy so he can pick his strongest team.

Borthwick is currently unable to select players who are based abroad unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Toulouse flanker Jack Willis is deemed an exception after he moved to the Top 14 side following Wasps' collapse.

Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marchant and David Ribbans are joining French clubs after the 2023 World Cup.

It is thought other England players will follow their international team-mates to pursue more lucrative deals in France or Japan.

Grady set for debut as Wales make nine changes
Watson starts for England against Wales
Premiership clubs agreed to cut the salary cap by £1.4m to £5m in the summer of 2020 amid the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, although it is set to return to £6.4m in 2024. The salary cap in the Top 14 is currently £8.5m.

"What we are faced with here are some extreme circumstances," said Borthwick. "There are discussions ongoing about what this means and what the implications are going forward. It's about the players' livelihoods and careers as well.

"From my point of view I want to make sure we are able to select the greatest number of players possible. And the best players possible. Those discussions are only at their starting point and clearly my focus is on the Six Nations.

"But do I want to make sure we have an England team where we have the best players available to us? Yes."

Saturday's Six Nations game with Wales had been in doubt with Welsh players threatening not to play amid a dispute with their rugby bosses over contracts.

With the game now going ahead, one of the changes agreed by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) was to reduce the minimum number of Test caps for overseas players to be eligible for selection from 60 to 25.

Rugby is facing a fight for its very existence from financial issues to new tackle laws and a declining number of grassroots players.

However, despite the off-field issues, which have seen Premiership clubs Wasps and Worcester fold, the opening two rounds of this year's Six Nations have produced some thrilling rugby.

Gatland looks to draw a line before England game
Borthwick added: "We know there are issues in rugby right now. Everyone knows it's been a challenging situation for rugby in this part of the world.

"We've seen two clubs no longer playing Premiership rugby this season. So we need to make sure those things are right.

"I and all our players sympathise wholeheartedly with what the Welsh players have had to go through.

"Nobody should have to go through the level of uncertainty they have had.

"With that in mind, I think this game is exactly what we need. We want these big exciting games that are full of passion and allow us to concentrate on the rugby."

Player power being demonstrated in Wales over their unions restrictive policy means a few England players may be having a little think? Clearly would affect the relationship between the prl and rfu too. Could get a bit messy.

No 7&1/2

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Post by Poorfour Fri Feb 24, 2023 7:01 pm

I think there needs to be a sensible approach here. The current agreement has its roots way back in Clive Woodward’s resignation over being unable to get adequate training time with his squad after the 2003 RWC. The agreement rewarded the English clubs in return for access to players; the one universally agreed exception was Wilkinson, who had in any case negotiated from Toulon the time he needed to train fully with England.

However, we’re in a difficult position: two clubs have failed, and the lower salary cap makes it almost impossible to keep the majority of players in England. Imperfect access is better than no access.

I think there needs to be a compromise that allows the RFU access to overseas players - perhaps for the duration of their current contracts - but with the proviso that they need to be back in England for the 26-27 season so that there are no compromises over access. That may be dependent on the salary cap being able to rise back to where it was - which i think was the plan but may have been further impacted by the loss of Wasps and Worcester.

In practice, some French clubs and contracts are more flexible about releasing players than others, and some of those players may end up excluding themselves because they can’t make enough of the training to be fully effective.

It’s a bit of a mess, but in extreme circumstances you do the best you can.

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Post by doctor_grey Fri Feb 24, 2023 11:45 pm

I think - or maybe just hope - this is an important start to the inevitable restructuring of Rugby from the financial side, which will, of course, have a knock-on effect on the playing structure.  This is the first time the game has been at such financial threat in our island that I can recall.  

This is about significant commercial and financial business issues, and many of the people in Rugby leadership positions are not the right people for the jobs.  Pro sport is big business, even if Rugby does not fit the textbook definition of 'big'.  Rugby is under threat for different reasons in many Tier 1 countries.  

The IRB, World Rugby, whatever, similarly to many of the Unions they are supposed to lead/support, is weak with no business acumen and offer no potential solutions.  Critically, Rugby needs to bring in seasoned pro sports execs (and be willing to pay competitive salaries - you want the best, you pay the best) and let them re-structure the sport at the high level and drive change down to the grass roots.  Not team owners/managers, but people who have real hands-on experience leading pro sports leagues. But the key is to park the parochial issues for the greater good.  And be willing to see and accept significant structural change.  And the chances of that happening.....


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