David Flatman: Simple solution to club v country row

From the Front Row: Six Nations over five weeks and salary cap increase so clubs can handle three-game weeks – this will end player-release anger

I wonder if English rugby will ever quite manage to get the relationship right between its clubs and its national team. It's a funny old relationship and one, I suspect, that wouldn't score too highly if referred to a counsellor. I'm not sure who exactly would share the leather chaise longue, but I am pretty confident that the expert would press home the power of compromise.

Of course, there is the débâcle surrounding the biannual selection of an England squad and the loopholes that have to be negotiated in order to get an unselected but in-form player on to the field, but we know all about this already. Fabio Capello does not have this problem; he just picks the players he wants every time. You might argue that it hasn't done him much good, but we can't blame the system.

One symptom of this supposedly amiable accord that does always seem rather counter-productive is England players missing club matches. England are happy with this arrangement as they get their men, the players are happy as they get to play for their country. But the clubs go intobig matches without, in theory,their best players. This is odd, don't you think?

Two weeks ago, we played against a Northampton team shorn of Dylan Hartley, Chris Ashton, Tom Wood and Ben Foden. Courtney Lawes was injured but, had he been fit, would also have been busy wearing white. We were without England centre Shontayne Hape. Despite this, the fans paid full price and the same number of points were at stake. The pounds and points aren't really the issue, but they form important parts of the bigger picture.

Then, last week, we took on an Exeter team missing, well, no internationals. We again were without Hape, but this time Matt Banahan was busy, too. Fortunately we managed to win but one couldn't help smiling while reading the Exeter teamsheet which, bar the odd injury and form-related selection, was no different to the one printed out all season.

So how does this make the players feel? Well, in truth, once you get out there it isn't something you think about. Usually the bloke stood six inches away trying to take your head off serves as sufficient distraction. Admittedly, we have a good squad at Bath and enough depth to cope so you might say we have it easy.

Jim Mallinder and Dorian West might feel differently, however. We all know that Northampton have a fantastic squad of players as well but surely no team could lose two of the best back-three players in the world without anyone noticing. So, due to their excellent form in recent seasons, their squad is temporarily weakened.

This raises a crazy question: is it worth signing current internationals? Well, yes it is. Naturally, the likes of Lewis Moody just won't be available for as many games as other players at the club but he is an England international for a reason. Evidently when he plays, his drive and commitment are unrivalled, whatever the opposition, and the same goes in training. But this isn't the only benefit.

He, along with the other internationals, add to the mix a heightened level of experience and composure; they infuse those around them with a feeling of security and a sense that, whatever situation we might be in, they've been there and handled it before. And this – in a game where it's not only the measurables that count (see the NFL) – is priceless.

So, were I a director of rugby, I would still recruit England players. I would concede that, as is right and proper, national selection takes precedence at all times and I wouldn't complain. I might, however, push for a few tweaks to the system. The notion of the Aviva Premiership halting completely while the Six Nations takes place seems reasonable enough at first glance, but do you think Exeter's representative would be keen? I doubt it. This "blocking out" would also mean a longer season as all league matches were pushed back and, well, the players would surely revolt at this.

My solution would be simple; play your Six Nations in five weeks, give us club players a nice little break and increase the salary cap to allow squads to cope with the demands of the resulting handful of three-game weeks. See, easy. Now all I have to do is get someone from the RFU to agree to meet my therapist. Look into my eyes...

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum