Paramore wins battle over status

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The Independent Online

Junior Paramore, the ultra-formidable loose forward from Samoa who came close to being awarded the freedom of Gloucester after his performance against Bath a fortnight or so ago, went one better yesterday by securing the freedom to play Premiership rugby as a British resident. This new development means that Philippe Saint-André, the hard-pressed head coach at Kingsholm, can play his three top-ranking southern hemisphere imports - Paramore, Terry Fanolua and Jason Little - in the same side.

Junior Paramore, the ultra-formidable loose forward from Samoa who came close to being awarded the freedom of Gloucester after his performance against Bath a fortnight or so ago, went one better yesterday by securing the freedom to play Premiership rugby as a British resident. This new development means that Philippe Saint-André, the hard-pressed head coach at Kingsholm, can play his three top-ranking southern hemisphere imports - Paramore, Terry Fanolua and Jason Little - in the same side.

"We've spent a good six months working on this case and, while we felt the Rugby Football Union would have been acting illegally had they not granted Paramore nonforeign status, we're still very relieved at the positive outcome," said Gloucester's managing director, Ken Nottage. "We've had a great deal of assistance from a specialist in immigration law, a QC in fact, and we were always confident of our case. But we nevertheless had to carry out extensive research into the player's background and movements over the last four years in order to prove that England has effectively been his home. Right now, I feel I know Junior better than he knows himself."

Paramore, born in Apia almost 32 years ago and the holder of 21 Samoan caps, first came to Britain after the 1995 World Cup to play rugby league with Castleford. He then spent three years at Bedford before moving to Kingsholm.

Keen to maximise their selectorial options by establishing Paramore's right to play in England without the need for a work permit, Gloucester set about proving that the player had enjoyed permanent employment in Britain for at least four years. "We had to check everything: where he took his holidays, where he played his rugby, how often he returned home," Nottage said. "It was an extremely complex matter."

However, Paramore's success will not open the door for others caught up in rugby's immigration red tape. Another Gloucester player, the New Zealand-born scrum-half Elton Moncrieff, is still classed as a foreign player, as is Steven Vile, the Bristol stand-off who was initially classed as a non-foreigner and then reclassified by the RFU as an overseas import.

"The Moncrieff and Vile cases are different," Nottage explained. "They are claiming right of abode through ancestry and while they have the legal right to live and work here, the union does not recognise their claim.

"Some might say that the RFU consider their own regulations to be greater than the law of the land, and we have good advice that any challenge from us would be successful. But we're talking about a six-figure legal case here, a case that would spend a minimum of two years before the courts. By that time, Moncrieff - and Vile, come to that - will qualify through residency, just like Paramore."

Grim news emerged from Scotland yesterday when Scott Murray, the extravagantly gifted Saracens lock, failed to participate in national squad training because of knee trouble. Murray, considered a near certainty for a berth in the Lions engine room in Australia next summer, will be scanned in London over the next few days as club and country await a firm diagnosis. The Scots fear he will miss their internationals this autumn against Australia, Samoa and the United States.

Over in France, meanwhile, there was a startling

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