England refuse to back down over Haskell

Rob Andrew reiterated that England will not be releasing James Haskell to play for Stade Francais this weekend.

And in doing so, England's elite rugby director shifted the spotlight of the club-versus-country row directly on to the player himself.



Stade Francais are desperate for Haskell to be available for Saturday's pivotal Top 14 clash with Toulouse, for which they have sold nearly 80,000 tickets.



International Rugby Board regulations give clubs first call on players in a non-international week and there is nothing in Haskell's club contract to over-ride that.



But Andrew refused to back down, arguing England's decision is based on guarantees made by Haskell that he has a separate agreement in place with Stade Francais covering his release.



"We have been given assurances by James and his advisors that he has an agreement with Stade that he can fulfil the release periods for England training," said Andrew.



"The position is between the player and the club. There is no issue here between the RFU and Stade Francais."



England have always stated that players based in France would only be considered for national selection if they could guarantee being available whenever called upon by manager Martin Johnson.



Andrew stressed the onus is on the player - and not the Rugby Football Union - to ensure he is available for England duty.



The crux of the Haskell case appears to be whether he negotiated that flexibility with Stade Francais, and with enough clarity to include fallow weeks in the Six Nations.



England have been led to believe he did. If not, Haskell would not have been selected for the Six Nations.



"We set out very clearly what the ground rules were for the guys involved," Andrew added.



"We asked for players to give us undertakings from their advisors, their agents or their lawyers that they have agreed with their clubs what we effectively require.



"We can only go on an undertaking from the lawyer - which we have from James' lawyer - that he has the release periods that we require in his agreement with his club."



But if Haskell does not have the cast-iron arrangements in place with Stade then he could find himself in a very sticky situation.



In that scenario, Haskell could lose his England place if he returned to play for Stade Francais - but he could technically find himself in breach of his club contract if he stayed away.



In an ironic twist, Haskell may not be fit to play this weekend anyway having become the latest player in the England camp to contract a stomach bug.



Haskell did not train today, with his place taken by Joe Worsley.



Johnson responded to suggestions of a "convenient illness" by saying: "I spoke to the doctor and he said the symptoms could not be faked."



Johnson added: "It is James' understanding that he is not doing anything wrong."



But the Haskell situation is fast developing into a test case, with Stade Francais president Max Guazzini alert to the fact the RFU pay the English clubs millions of pounds to ensure player availability.



Guazzini yesterday appealed for the Six Nations committee to take action and he has had Haskell's absence from training in Paris this week independently verified.



"The Rugby Football Union has signed agreements with English clubs to pay for access to English internationals outside of the windows provided by the IRB," Stade said in a strongly-worded statement.



"This is not the case for French clubs who should not, therefore, finance the preparation of the England team."



Equally, the RFU will not want to be financing French club rugby and Andrew was at pains to stress Twickenham had not entered into any written agreements with any Top 14 clubs.



"There is no agreement between the RFU and Stade Francais. There never has been and there are no agreements between the RFU and any of the clubs," said Andrew.



"We asked the players to deliver an undertaking that in their agreements they had the appropriate release periods. That is what we have been given by all the players in this scenario."



News
people And here is why...
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?