Rugby Union: Dooley snubs home unions' tame offer: Intransigence ends lock's international career while disappointment looms for England captain

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The Independent Online
WITH a fine disregard for compassion and common sense, the committee of home unions has told Wade Dooley, who left the Lions tour after the death of his father, he is welcome to return to New Zealand - provided he does not play in any of the five remaining matches. Dooley has decided it is not worth the bother.

'I am really cheesed off. All sorts of obstacles have been put in my way, so I am staying here,' Dooley said from his Lancashire home yesterday. 'Bob Weighill, the Four Home Unions committee secretary, said to me that there were problems about insurance, the tour agreement and precedence for future tours. So I told him that I'd stay here.'

This piece of nonsense has been perpetrated after the New Zealand Rugby Football Union had done a decent thing by offering to pay for the England lock to come back. Now Eddie Tonks, who doubles as chairman of the International Board and the NZRFU, has been told he exceeded his authority.

Whether it is sensible for Dooley to rejoin the Lions now that he has been replaced by Martin Johnson may be questionable. But, even so, the home unions' attitude beggars belief. 'Wade has said he wants to come back and New Zealand have repeated their offer,' the Lions manager, Geoff Cooke, said last night after arriving in Auckland from New Plymouth. 'But members of the International Board working out of the UK have raised objections to this and have said it is not within the terms of the agreement. Despite the fact that the chairman of the IB personally issued the invitation, it is being said Eddie had no powers to do so. I've made my feelings known but it's out of my hands.'

According to Cooke, the NZRFU's gesture was within the spirit of the tour agreement. 'It allows you to carry extra players for injury and illness, with the approval of the host union. This case is unusual, compassionate leave really.

'We weren't sure how long it was going to last so we asked for a replacement, but New Zealand said Wade could come back at their expense. Unfortunately the home unions are insisting on sticking to the letter of the regulations rather than treating it as a special case.'

Dooley said: 'I would really have loved to have come back and rejoin my colleagues after dealing with my personal bereavement. But I am not going half-way round the world to become a non-player.'

Dooley's international career that began in 1985, now ends with 55 England caps and two Tests appearances for the Lions in 1989, as he intended to quit top-class rugby after the tour. 'I never got to play a full match against New Zealand. All I got was that 20 minutes in Wellington for England as a replacement back in 1985.'