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Andrew: Policy will benefit England

Director of elite rugby Rob Andrew feels the Rugby Football Union's new rules on player eligibility will help England to approach the 2015 World Cup with their emerging stars at their best.

The RFU announced on Thursday that they intend to only select England players from domestic clubs following next year's World Cup.

"We've obviously got a very detailed relationship with the English clubs which we think helps our relationship with the clubs and the international career of our England players," Andrew told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Post-2011 we've got a long lead-up to the 2015 World Cup. We've got a lot of very talented young English players coming through the system and we really feel that we want to keep them playing in England, both for our clubs and also for the England team."

A similar policy has long since been in place in much of the southern hemisphere, and Andrew added: "Generally speaking, New Zealand and Australia have always said they won't pick players who go and play overseas. If players want to play for their country they have to go back to Australia and New Zealand.

"South Africa have played around with it, sometimes they have had a policy and sometimes they haven't.

"We're not saying players can't go - it's a free world. It's about saying to them 'we think in the long run we can help protect your international career if you stay and play for our English clubs'.

"We have said in exceptional circumstances we will look at it, clearly. We're not going to cut off our nose to spite our face but we don't want an exodus of our best young players going across to play in France, because it will cause us difficulties."

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: "You can understand the Rugby Football Union's point of view - they want their best players playing domestically and with the EPS (Elite Performance Squad) agreement they can look after those players."

But he voiced concerns that a lack of international commitments could actually make players more attractive to overseas clubs, saying: "That is a danger. The northern hemisphere sides buy southern hemisphere players because they're good, generally, and also you've got them all year round and you don't lose them in the international windows.

"That might be an attraction. English guys who are in the twilight of their careers might decide to go there for the financial rewards - and the French clubs might find it more attractive simply because they have them all year round."


From Belfast Telegraph