The effects of the twin bugbears of English rugby - the Kolpak ruling on European workers' rights and Clive Woodward's beloved Elite Player Scheme - were on show at the Stoop yesterday as one squad of multinational musclemen, Northampton's, handed the one assembled by Harlequins a 45-13 thumping.
Fourteen of the 30 players who started the game were eligible for an English cap, and two South African Test captains, Quins' Andre Vos and Saints' Corne Krige, commanded their cosmopolitan comrades into battle. Yet eight tries were scored by home-qualified players.
For Northampton the current internationals Steve Thompson and Ben Cohen, the club stalwart Grant Seely and the young backs John Rudd and Mark Tucker scored tries, with another youngster, the flanker Darren Fox, adding a sixth from the bench. Paul Grayson, an Englishman retired from Test rugby, added nine points, only for Australia's Shane Drahm to crash the party with a couple of late penalties.
Quins, with four Irishmen in the backs and another on the bench, scored tries through England's Will Greenwood and the sevens international Ugo Monye. Andy Dunne, an Irishman, kicked a penalty.
The Premiership newcomers, Worcester, wend their way to Watford to play Saracens today with three changes to the side who lost to Newcastle last week. The former Saracens prop Steven Sparks is among the new boys.
In the Celtic League Leinster won 26-15 in Belfast, against Ulster, in a match denuded of Irish internationals thanks to the Irish Rugby Football Union's strict husbandry of its Test squad.
In the all-Scottish match Glasgow held off the perennial basement boys from the Borders for a dour 10-7 win at the Greenyards.
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