England's selection policy stays intact despite Borthwick's request
NEWS: England’s policy of refusing to select overseas-based players for international duty is set to remain, according to Premiership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor.
The aim of the approach is to ensure the country’s leading stars remain at home, strengthening the Premiership and giving the England head coach greater control over his players.
Jack Willis, however, was selected during the recent Six Nations under an “exceptional circumstance” clause after the flank joined French giants Toulouse following the financial collapse of Wasps.
England coach Steve Borthwick has called for an easing of the policy so he can select the “best players available”, with several Test players, including hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, lock David Ribbans and centre Joe Marchant all having signed to play for clubs in France’s Top 14 from next season.
But the new Professional Game Agreement that will take effect from July 2024 is set to be unchanged in this regard.
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“From the RFU’s [Rugby Football Union’s], ours and even the players’ perspective we all see the importance of England internationals playing domestically,” Massie-Taylor told Britain’s PA news agency.
“Provisions exist for exceptional circumstances that will probably still carry on going forward, but we all agree England international players should be playing in the Premiership.”
Saracens coach Mark McCall has urged the RFU to follow the example of other countries by bringing in central contracts for England players.
Clubs are increasingly concerned that players they develop will end up spending large chunks of the season on England duty.
Premiership clubs are operating in a precarious financial environment – Worcester and Wasps were kicked out of the English top flight after going bust earlier this season.
Massie-Taylor said the existing system has “worked pretty well” but added there were discussions about how it could be improved.
But he acknowledged the financial pressures clubs were facing.
“That’s clearly in quite a fragile state at the moment so we need to have a discussion around sharing more risk and around England stars as well,” he said.