Wales and Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb has expressed his disappointment over the fact that he will be unable to play for Wales next season and has revealed that he was unaware that his move to French giants Toulon would block him from playing for his country, report WalesOnline.
Following the announcement by the WRU that the Senior Players Selection Policy (SPSP) AKA Gatland’s Law had been scrapped in place of a new one, which means that from next season onwards only non-Welsh based players with 60 caps or more will be eligible for international selection, the 28 times-capped Ospreys man will be ineligible for his country.
It means that the Bridgend-born star, who appeared in two Lions Tests over the summer, will be out in the international wilderness come next year, with his hopes of appearing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in tatters.
The new policy means that Webb is the only casualty from Wales’ internationals currently plying their trade outside the country or who have already signed deals to leave.
Saracens’ Liam Williams, despite having only 43 caps is exempt from the new law because he is already playing outside Wales.
Other non-Wales-based players like Harlequins’ Jamie Roberts and Bath pair Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris are all over the 60-cap threshold and therefore can be picked without any problem while Webb’s Ospreys teammate Dan Biggar, who will join Northampton next season, already has 56 caps and thus has time to reach the 60-cap mark before the law comes into effect next season.
Clearly surprised that he would now be unavailable for international duty come next year, Webb has opened up about the devastating news:
“I am very disappointed at the news because I love playing for Wales. It means a huge amount to me. It is a real blow that I won’t be able to play international rugby from next season.
“I didn’t know the full implications when I agreed to join Toulon because the change in the selection policy came out after I signed.”
Clearly feeling that he has been hard done by, the 29-year-old highlighted his ten years of loyal service to his home region and the serious injuries he has picked up during his career as reasons which should have been taken into account.
“I have given 10 years service to the Ospreys and Welsh rugby and have picked up injuries along the way. I would have hoped that would have been taken into consideration.”
Warren Gatland, speaking about Webb during the WRU press conference to disclose the new policy, said that Webb still had the means to remove himself from his Toulon contract and thus keep his international hopes alive.
“Rhys can still get out of the contract. He’s only signed a letter of agreement.
“We spoke to Derwyn (Jones) to say this policy was potentially coming. I’ve spoken to Rhys and he’s spoken to Rhys.
“It was a decision about his future. For him to get to 60 caps might take three years and he may not get that opportunity again.
“We’ve got to respect and understand that.”
The loss of Webb come next season will be a huge loss for Wales. Quick and highly dangerous around the fringes with his constant probing and sniping and blessed with an excellent pass and a real ability to manage a game, he is a top class operator.
While Scarlets live wire Gareth Davies is an excellent nine, he isn’t able to manage a game in the same way Webb does.
After his years of sterling service to the Welsh game, one cannot help but feel that Webb has been harshly treated. Players only have short careers, and he has already suffered a couple of serious injuries, so surely he could have been allowed to take a payday that would secure him and his family’s future whilst also continuing to shine in a Welsh jersey.
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Read More About: dan biggar, Derwyn Jones, Gareth Davies, gatland's law, jamie roberts, liam williams, Luke Charteris, northampton saints, Ospreys Rugby, rhys webb, rugby world cup 2019, scarlets, Taulupe Faletau, toulon rugby, warren gatland, Welsh national rugby team, wru