England looking to shore up English talent

England’s Rugby Football Union have admitted that they have abandoned their policy of helping to fund cross-code transfers from rugby league.

World cup winner Jason Robinson was England’s most succesful convert from League and he helped England win the rugby world cup scoring a try in the World Cup final.

His move was so succesful that the RFU assisted in bringing over the likes of Andy Farrell, Henry Paul and Chev Walker but they all failed to match Robinson’s impact.

“We’ve made it very clear our policy is not to recruit league players,” RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew told the BBC.

“That’s because of the structure in terms of how we’re funding the clubs and the top end of the game.”

There are still player moving from League to Union such as Bradford Bulls centre Shontayne Hape recently moving to Bath and promising Leeds back Danny Williams switching to Newcastle Falcons but all of these deals have had to be financed by the Union without help from the RFU.

“It would have to be an extraordinary situation for (England manager) Martin Johnson to come to us recommending a league player and for us to sign him,” said Andrew.

“But if there was a player like that then it’s very likely that he would not already have been signed by a Gloucester or Bath.

“That’s because these players are being shifted around the market-place the whole time.”

The RFU has focused on developing existing and up and coming Rugby Union home talent rewarding the Premiership clubs for selecting English players.

They do not want a situation where there is not enough English talent playing in home leagues which is happening in football’s Premier League.

“If enough players aren’t coming through that will affect England,” said Andrew.

“There’s no doubt about that and we’re seeing it happen in football.”

Andrew said that he was happy for clubs to continue to sign the star names of world rugby, but he wanted them to think twice about turning to journeyman players on short-term contracts.

“There will always be foreign players and coaches and we don’t have an issue with that – if they’re of high quality,” he said.

“What we do have an issue with is the run-of-the-mill foreign player who is standing in the way of the development of some very good English youngsters.

“The balance is shifting back to English players now and that’s something we need to protect because long-term if that starts to fall then we’re in trouble.”

Approximately 35% of the players in the Guinness Premiership are not qualified to play for England, a far lower percentage than in its football equivalent.



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