From Dow Jones & Telerate
Almost 100 leading players from Courage Leagues One and Two will
be barred from playing for their divisions against the three
touring teams follwoing the breakdown of negotiations between
Twickenham and the EPRUC on Wednesday.
EPRUC officials were waiting on Thursday to hear from the RFU
on their request to make a presentation to the full committee on
EPRUC Chair Donald Kerr siad, "the players will not be released
to appear against South Africa A, Queensland, and Argentina."
The EPRUC employs the sport's top stars in the top two divisions
Each division, North, Southwest, London, and Midlands have
fixtures against the tourists starting next week. The renewal of
the ban on the players outside the international team also throws
England A plans into confusion.
It now seems likely that the divisions will be represented by
players from League 3 downwards which wrecks the selection
process for England A, who face the incoming tourists in 3
matches between Dec. 10 and 13.
The RFU say that England A selectin will be based upon
performances for the divisions, and in a statement said, "the
National Selectors reconfirmed the importance of the 'provincial
matches' against Argentina, South Africa A, Queensland, and New
Zealand Barbarians, whoa re due to the play the North in the
build-up to the international against England. Consequently the
3 England A teams due to play on Dec. 10, 11, and 13 will not be
named until after the completion of the provincial matches in
order to assess individual players."
Southwest had already chosen players largely from League 3
downwards. A Gloucester trio were included, but Richard Hill,
the club's rugby director, has withdrawn them and said, "they are
too vulnerable playing in such a weak team."
Tony Jorden, chair of the London Selectors, had named a squad for
their match against Argentina next Wednesday that included only
players from Leagues 1 & 2. His plans will now need revising.
"It is shambolic." he said. "We have a fall-back plan which
involves using players from Rosslyn Park and Havant. But my
worry is that players from that level could be exposed to danger
in the scrums against such powerful scrummages as Argentina,
though Queensland and the South Africans will obviously have
powerful packs. It is causing incredible confusion among the
players, who are the most important element."