Wales’ English-based stars will be able to play against Australia in their opening autumn test on November 5 after Premiership Rugby generously agreed to release all of them for the match, according to Wales Online.
This means that the likes of George North (if he recovers from a hand injury), Jamie Roberts, Luke Charteris, Ross Moriarty and Tomas Francis will be available for the bonfire night clash against Michael Cheika’s men in Cardiff.
If he had been fit, Bath number 8 Taulupe Faletau, out at the moment with a knee injury, would also have been allowed to play.
Interim coach Rob Howley had feared that he would be denied the services of North, Roberts et al for the clash due to the fact that the game falls outside World Rugby’s test window.
Premiership Rugby, the group which represents the Aviva Premiership clubs, have a policy in place which states that they do not have to release any non-English players for matches which fall outside the Test window. Northampton were fined £60,000 in the past for releasing George North for such a clash.
But suprisingly, Premiership Rugby today announced that its clubs had agreed a one-off change to its policy, which means Wales will be able to field some of their key men for the game.
A Premiership Rugby spokesman had this to say about the decision,
“As a gesture of flexibility the Premiership Rugby clubs will release their players outside the approved Test window for matches on the weekend of 4-6 November.
“This comes as we continue deliberations on a new post-2019 global season structure to find an appropriate balance between club and international rugby.
“We are showing flexibility to help a number of unions who have decided to play on this particular weekend but we must stress this is a one-off variation to the allowed window while discussions continue.”
With the Anglo-Welsh cup taking place that weekend, England’s clubs will be involved in that, with the Premiership taking a break for a week. One could argue that this factor played a role in Premiership Rugby’s decision as well.
The news will be a boost to Rob Howley and Co., as they seek to end an eleven match losing streak against the Wallabies, going back to 2008.
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