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."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine