IRB consider amnesty offer for clubs who keep players away from international duty


The International Rugby Board may grant an amnesty to European clubs who offer foreign players incentives not to represent their countries in Test matches in exchange for guarantees that such practices will stop immediately. The governing body, determined to take action following last week's revelations in The Independent that Fiji had been unable to field their strongest team at last year's World Cup and had again been weakened for their current tour of the northern hemisphere, will address the issue in the coming weeks.

After watching his team ship more than 50 points at Twickenham on Saturday, the Fijian head coach Inoke Male expressed his frustration at the absence of a fistful of France-based players including the Racing Métro forwards Jone Qovu and Sakiusa Matadigo, the Stade Français wing Waisea Nayacalevu and the Clermont Auvergne back Napolioni Nalaga. The Fijian union has lodged a formal complaint with the French Rugby Federation in respect of Qovu and although Jacky Lorenzetti, the Racing Métro owner, insisted at the weekend that his club had done nothing wrong, the FFR has decreed that the high-calibre lock cannot play for his club until the international window closes early next month.

"It is very difficult for us when we cannot pick our best talent," said Male, who had just seen his team suffer a record defeat at the hands of England. "We are happy that this problem has now been raised in public and we need the IRB to do something about it. We are confident this will now happen."

Male would like to see other things happen before the next World Cup, which will be played in England in the autumn of 2015. Aware that Argentina, another country with an amateur domestic base and frequently unable to field its strongest line-up because European club contracts dictate otherwise, had just recorded a famous victory over Wales in Cardiff, the coach said a more sympathetic approach to fixture scheduling would give his nation the chance of achieving something similar.

"What we need is more frequent exposure to international rugby at the top level," he said. "If the tier one teams gave us more matches, we would develop as quickly as Argentina are developing now they are involved in the Rugby Championship (the recently expanded annual southern hemisphere tournament featuring Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). I am convinced we would be competitive if teams like England agreed to play us every year, sometimes in Fiji."

England have not played in the South Seas since 1991, when Will Carling's side won 28-12 after leading by just three points at the interval. A few weeks later, two-thirds of that red-rose side reached the World Cup final and lost narrowly to Australia.

According to reports in New Zealand, who have never played a Test in the islands despite the All Blacks' geographical proximity, leading figures in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are actively discussing the formation of a Pacific-based players' union in an effort to improve and sustain South Seas competitiveness at Test level.

Deacon Manu, the Wales-based prop who captained Fiji at Twickenham two days ago, told the New Zealand Herald: "I'm lucky that the people in Llanelli understand the importance and pride of playing for your country, but further investigations need to be made by the IRB into what some clubs are doing. I don't want to threaten other clubs because I understand their predicament, but we need a better deal. Rugby tends to be controlled by half a dozen countries, but they could be faced with some sort of revolution if the status quo remains."

Up Next... The Wounded Wallabies walloped by France

The Australia coach Robbie Deans claimed his side paid the price for "inaccuracies" after losing 33-6 to France in Paris.

"It was a very complete performance from the French, they were too good for us," said Deans, whose team face England at Twickenham on Saturday. "They grew in confidence. We opened the door in some way with our inaccuracies. We always figured they were going to come out with a lot of intensity."

The Australia lock and captain Nathan Sharpe added: "Our intensity was good but it was our execution that let us down."

The France coach, Philippe Saint-André, whose side were thrashed 59-16 by Australia two years ago, said the fear of another humiliation by a southern hemisphere nation was a factor in their victory.

"When we're scared we do great things," Saint André said. "It's a true achievement, especially when you look at the southern nations' performances."

Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
Actor Burt Reynolds last year

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game