November 08, 2012
  Follow @ Twitter

IRB vows to get tough on player release

World governing body, the International Rugby Board insists it is prepared to impose significant sanctions if it finds clubs preventing players from representing their country.

And IRB will be keeping a close eye on the issue during this month's international matches in Europe.

There have long been concerns players from the sport's financially poorer countries, particularly in the Pacific Islands, face economic "blackmail" by wealthy clubs in the sport's established nations.

Under IRB rules, clubs must release players at times designated for full internationals, such as the upcoming November "window", and major tournaments including the World Cup.

But clubs have tried to get round this by agreeing clauses in contracts with players from cash-strapped Pacific Island nations who then make themselves unavailable for Test duty, as happened at last year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Former Fiji outside-half Nicky Little, who has played club rugby in five European countries, labelled the practice as "blackmail".

And with the 2015 World Cup in England again overlapping with the European domestic season, the practice of clubs offering lucrative incentives to ignore Test calls could see the likes of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa deprived of key players.

Damien Hopley, the International Rugby Players' Association chairman, told Tuesday's edition of Britain's Independent newspaper: "The IRB are aware of this practice.

"It is imperative that the World Cup is defined by the best playing against the best."

IRB regulation nine forbids clubs from offering disincentives, either through "contract or conduct", to players to represent their country but critics insist officials have not done enough to enforce the rule.

But in a statement issued from its Dublin headquarters late on Wednesday, ahead of an opening weekend of November Tests including England's match with Fiji at Twickenham, the IRB said it would act on breaches of regulation nine.

"Player release is central to the integrity and economic sustainability of the international game and the IRB continues to be proactively committed to assisting (national) unions with player release issues when requested by them to do so under regulation nine," the statement said.

"The regulation is designed to deliver a fair, equitable and proportionate framework for facilitating the release of the world's best players for international duty within designated windows without impediment irrespective of country of employment.

"This regulation goes to the very core of supporting the integrity of the international game."

"The IRB takes any breach of the regulation very seriously and acts on release issues where it is formally requested to do so by a union or if it is presented with credible evidence provided by a union or recognised rugby body that would allow it to pursue its own enquiry," the statement added.

"Unions also have a clear obligation to do everything possible to uphold the regulation within their territory or they risk significant sanctions.

The IRB also said the subject of "release issues" during this month's internationals would be on the agenda for their November meetings in Dublin.

Claims emerged earlier this week that Fijian players, Sireli Bobo, Jone Qovu and Josh Matavesi, while with Racing Metro were paid to make themselves unavailable for the 2011 World Cup in order to play in the French Top 14.

By Reginald Chandar/AFP

 



 

Xmas - Tones

PREVIOUS STORY
Dere names 16-member squad for 2nd leg
NEXT STORY
England, Fiji name match-day squads

Post a Comment
Bookmark and Share

 


Posted Comments
No comments, but you can post the first comment!

 

 







SPORTS
Referee Vulivuli off to Portugal
Fiji's lone female FIFA referee Finau Vulivuli has been selected to officiate in the 2015 Algarve Cup in March.
FOOTBALL
Referee Vulivuli off to Portugal
Fiji's lone female FIFA referee Finau Vulivuli has been selected to officiate in the 2015 Algarve Cup in March.
FIJI NEWS
$A13m of cocaine seized in wharf raid
Fijian authorities seized 30 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $A13 million following a raid at the Lautoka Wharf last night.
HEALTH/FITNESS
Chavez in Venezuela after cancer surgery
President Hugo Chavez surprised and in many cases delighted Venezuelans by returning home on Monday, albeit to an uncertain future, ending a more than two-month absence in Cuba for cancer treatment.
ENTERTAINMENT
Afghan street kid heads for the Oscars red carpet
An Afghan street kid is off to Hollywood and the red-carpet treatment at the Oscars -- a fairytale ending to a chance encounter that led to a starring role in a movie.
TECHNOLOGY
Apple hit by hackers
Apple on Tuesday said it was hit by hackers who wormed their way into the California company's system but evidently failed to steal any data.