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."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks