England: No plans to change eligibility rules – Bill Sweeney

Home » England: No plans to change eligibility rules – Bill Sweeney

There are no plans to change England’s eligibility rules, says Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Rules state that players selected for England must compete in the Premiership.

Sweeney said departing players have had conversations with head coach Steve Borthwick and “partly a lifestyle choice” was their reason for leaving.

“If you look at the number of players going abroad, it doesn’t really impact our core group,” Sweeney said.

“Where we currently stand on the policy of only selecting players based in England stays as it is.”

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell will move to Racing 92 at the end of season. He will be joined in the Top 14 by England internationals Kyle Sinckler, who has joined Toulon for next season, with Northampton’s Lewis Ludlam expected to follow.

This comes after World Cup squad members Jack Willis and Henry Arundell, who both moved to France after the demise of Wasps and London Irish, opted to extend their contracts with Toulouse and Racing and rule out a return to the Premiership ahead of this season.

“If you actually look at the players we’ve got abroad, they probably made a decision in terms of ‘where’s my England career currently?'” he added.

“‘Am I in contention for a place in those hybrid contracts? Am I in that core group of England players going forward?'”

England centre Manu Tuilagi will also leave Sale Sharks at the end of the season to join Bayonne.

Former Harlequins centre Joe Marchant moved to Stade Francais after starting in the centre for England with Tuilagi during the World Cup, but is rumoured to be considering a return to the Premiership.

“There are maybe one or two that you think we would rather have over here,” Sweeney added.

“Joe Marchant is rumoured to be coming back to the Premiership this year, so from our perspective, we are okay with it.

“We think there is a performance advantage to having those players based in your own country.”

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