Home Rugby Opinion: RFU Hypocrisy Continues In Player Poaching Debate

Opinion: RFU Hypocrisy Continues In Player Poaching Debate

Rugby Football Union chief Steve Brown has called for stricter rules to prevent nations from selecting players nurtured through the English system. What a joke.

Brown’s protest comes as a result of three-uncapped Scotland players picked in their squad for the Autumn Internationals, being English born.

Once again, an example of England hitting out at rules that have benefited them for so many years, and in turn done so much more damage to stunt the growth of the smaller ones.

In February, the Chief Exec said that in an ideal world, a five-year residency rule was “absolutely the route to go down”. In fact, there was even talk of the RFU imposing their own rule if the IRB didn’t extend it to five years.

And yet two months later, England picked Denny Solomona. The same Denny Solomona who had said as a rugby league player:

“My heart’s not here, it’s not for England.”

If England’s vast array of players from foreign-born countries were all developed in our system, then it would be a fair protest.

But England are littered with players who have been nurtured elsewhere.

The Vunipolas were developed in Wales and then poached by English private schools, Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni in Fiji, Solomona and Dylan Hartley in New Zealand. Even Manu Tuilagi played his first few years of rugby in Samoa.

Of course many English born and raised players play for other nations. They have learned their trade here and benefited from English coaching.

But let’s not forget this coaching is paid for by the coaches. It costs £150 for a Level 2 coaching qualification from the RFU. So this is not an expense to the RFU.

Furthermore boys that play mini rugby in the UK have to pay for the memberships at clubs, again, why do the RFU somehow think that gives them ownership over their players?

And if these ‘development years’, take place while players are in academies, surely it is the clubs, not country, that has effectively given the player their development and chance to improve.

While it is true that Scotland and Wales have several English born and developed players, few of them would make it into the English team, so why do they need them?

Is my nation (England) so selfish, that we want to ban individuals from making the choice to play for other nations because they’ve always supported them (e.g. through family) or just want a taste of international rugby?

Yes, yes it is.

Meanwhile, England themselves take players from countries that desperately need them, solely due to the fact they pay 100 times the match fee than the players of Samoa, for example.

If you look at the big recent examples, Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Academy, number eight) from Wales and Darryl Marfo (Quins Academy, loosehead) for Scotland, England have been more than happy to plug the holes with players developed outside England. Further examples are. Nathan Hughes (Fiji-born New Zealand developed, number eight) and Mako Vunipola (New Zealand born, Welsh-developed, loosehead).

So once again, the money and power obsessed RFU displays a complete lack of self-reflection, when complaining about an issue they have grievances over.

Enough complaining. Start paying pacific nations a decent match fee, stop picking players who have only just qualified and clearly only want to play for financial gain, and start looking at ways to improve rugby across the world, and not just in England.

Get your own house in order before criticising others.

Nick Powell, Pundit Arena

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