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Thursday, March 5, 1998 Published at 19:46 GMT

Sport: Rugby Union

Play or be dropped, Woodward warns
image: [ Clive Woodward held an emergency meeting with his squad on Wednesday. ]
Clive Woodward held an emergency meeting with his squad on Wednesday.

Clive Woodward, the English rugby coach, has warned his squad that players who refuse to tour with England in the summer, face losing their places for the remainder of this season's Five Nations Championship.

It follows the decision on Monday by the chief executive of Northampton, Keith Barwell to ban his players, including Paul Grayson, Matt Dawson, Tim Rodber and Gregor Townsend from touring this summer.

Barwell said he wanted his side's stars to have two months off to recover from "another hard season".

Woodward held a crisis meeting with his squad at Wednesday's training session at Bisham Abbey in a bid to diffuse the issue.

The Rugby Football Union has refused to reveal details of the session.

But Barwell claims that Woodward warned his players that if they are not totally committed and available at all times between now and the World Cup, they would not be considered for selection.

"[All] club owners will be having an emergency meeting on Friday," Barwell said.

"Clive has dug himself into a hole. None of the clubs will be refusing to release their players for the rest of the Five Nations.

"If Clive decides that he won't select them that's his decision and not ours."

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