RFU stand firm over Haskell row
The Rugby Football Union have said they will not be releasing flanker James Haskell back to Stade Francais for their Top 14 clash with Toulouse this weekend.
Stade said in a statement on Tuesday that the former Wasps forward, who joined the Parisians last summer, needs to return to France as they do not have an agreement with England that would allow Haskell to remain with the national side. This week is not considered an international week by the International Rugby Board as there are no RBS 6 Nations fixtures this weekend.
However, the RFU insist an agreement does exist that allows the 24-year-old to remain in camp with Martin Johnson's side. An RFU spokesman said: "Our position is as it has been for the past two days. James will be staying with England as his contract with Stade Francais allows him to be available during EPS (Elite Player Squad) periods. We have nothing further to add to that."
Haskell, who has featured in the last 20 England Tests, has started all three games of the current RBS 6 Nations campaign, scoring two tries and earning the man-of-the-match award in the 30-17 victory over Wales at Twickenham.
Stade released a strongly-worded statement on their website on Tuesday, which read: "On Monday, Stade Francais - finding England international James Haskell absent from training - asked the back-rower to return immediately to Paris.
"This period is not provided for in the IRB's international windows and Stade Francais have a big match against Stade Toulousain on Saturday.
"The RFU responded that they will refuse to release Haskell on the grounds that an agreement was signed between them and Stade Francais. No agreement has ever been signed with the RFU, contrary to what they claim. If it is so, the RFU can produce this so-called agreement.
"The RFU have surely confused us with other clubs such as Toulon, who had to accept an agreement for this season relating to Jonny Wilkinson.
"Therefore, Stade Francais are ordering James Haskell, who has already missed two training sessions, to kindly rejoin his club urgently.
"The RFU have signed agreements with English clubs, whom they reimburse for placing their international players at their disposition outside of IRB international windows. This is not the case for French clubs who, thus, do not have to fund the preparation of the England team."