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Page last updated at 23:44 GMT, Sunday, 4 January 2009

McGeechan upset by England rules

James Haskell
James Haskell (right) was one of three England players returning from a rest

Wasps chief Ian McGeechan has hit out at rules forcing clubs to rest England players for Premiership games.

Under an agreement between the clubs and the Rugby Football Union, members of the 32-man Elite Player Squad (EPS) are restricted to 32 games a season.

"We will support England but we just look for a bit of support," said McGeechan, whose club supply a large share of the EPS squad.

"You don't go very far if you are just sticking to regulations all the time."

The deal, which began on 1 July last year, stipulates that players in the EPS are rested for one league game between rounds nine and 11.

Wasps had nine players named in the original EPS squad last year, and McGeechan believes they are being penalised for their policy of recruiting England-qualified players.

McGeechan left out the bulk of his EPS players at Sale last week and saw his team crushed 31-3.

He recalled the likes of James Haskell, Tom Rees, Phil Vickery and Danny Cipriani - who stepped up to the EPS after originally being named in the Saxons squad as he recovered from a serious ankle injury - to face Quins.

Quins stars Nick Easter and Ugo Monye both played in England's November Tests after coming in for injured players, but because they were not named in the original EPS McGeechan says the ruling does not apply to them.

"I don't understand how some players can play four internationals and be available for all three Premiership games - and other players who only played two internationals have to be rested for one game," said McGeechan.

"They tell me if you are officially in the EPS squad it makes a difference - but that is not player welfare.

"If you have played four internationals in the autumn the rest now is supposed to stop all that backing up.

"If it is such a big thing let's have an even playing field because we are getting screwed off the field and screwed by what we can put on it at times.

"If you live by contracts you lose the whole essence of what you try to do. What irritates me is that we do look after our players."

McGeechan was also frustrated with England doctor Mike Bundy's decision to rule out winger Paul Sackey with an ankle injury on Saturday.

It is almost a contradiction. You should have your best players playing

Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones

"We will be following up the process. I wasn't happy with the process," he added.

"They asked him to do a fitness test and as a result of that we agreed to withdraw him.

"Sackey believes he was fitter on Saturday than he was before the South Africa Test in November."

Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones also expressed his dissatisfaction on Saturday at the selection rules after his side lost to Gloucester without the services of Steve Borthwick.

The England captain and lock was prevented from playing because manager Martin Johnson wanted him rested.

Jones said: "I think it is ridiculous that you don't have your best English players playing in the Premiership.

"It is almost a contradiction. You should have your best players playing."

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see also
Wasps 24-18 Harlequins
04 Jan 09 |  English
Gloucester 22-16 Saracens
03 Jan 09 |  English
Sale 31-3 Wasps
26 Dec 08 |  English
Guinness Premiership photos
04 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union
Clubs agree truce with Twickenham
15 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union
English club-v-country row ended
02 Nov 07 |  Rugby Union
Johnson named as England supremo
16 Apr 08 |  English

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