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England stars won't donate match fee to Samoa


By Duncan Bech

England's players have decided against giving a portion of their match fee to their Samoan counterparts ahead of Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson revealed that the possibility of donating part of the £23,000 they are paid for each Test - as recently suggested by Mako Vunipola - would be discussed this week.

Samoa's union, who pay their players a match fee of £600, have been declared bankrupt by their chairman but this claim is refuted by World Rugby.

Captain Dylan Hartley raised the issue among the senior player group and it was decided that they would not supplement the £75,000 goodwill gesture promised to the Pacific Islanders by the Rugby Football Union.

"As players we feel it isn't our place to get involved in what appears to be a complex issue between the Samoan union and World Rugby," an RFU spokesperson said in a statement issued on behalf of the players.

"We are aware that the RFU have pledged to make a goodwill gesture to them on behalf of everyone involved with England and we support that decision.

"As players we look forward to playing Samoa this weekend as I am sure they are too."

Meanwhile, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend admits the national side could suffer if players continue to move abroad.

Finn Russell has announced his decision to leave Glasgow at the end of the season, with Racing 92 the expected destination for the fly-half.

Russell will join Greig Laidlaw and Richie Gray in France, while players such as Sean Maitland and John Barclay play elsewhere in the UK - though Barclay is set to move back to Edinburgh.

There have long been difficulties with securing the release of players in France in time to join up with their international sides, and Townsend is keen to keep as many players in Scotland as possible.

"The better thing for the national team is more people playing in Scotland," he said. "If more and more players leave Scotland, it will be much tougher. A huge reason Ireland have been successful is their players are in the same area, playing in Ireland and building up combinations and connections.

"We wish Finn all the best. We have two players injured in France who were likely to be in our squad - in Richie and Greig - and we'll now have a third but you've got to make sure there's not too many leaving Scotland."

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