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Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 18:29 UK

England warn France-bound stars

Rob Andrew
Andrew is taking a tough stance against the French exodus

England players who move to France must attend all training sessions with the national team in order to be selected, says elite rugby director Rob Andrew.

England boss Martin Johnson and Andrew want French clubs to abide by the same agreement for player release as their English counterparts.

"If the players can't deliver everything we wish they will not be picked," Andrew told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We need Martin to be in full control of the England team's preparation."

Three England players - James Haskell, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer - are moving to France at the end of the season.

Jonny Wilkinson has held discussions with French side Toulon and could move in the summer.

"We've got a very detailed agreement with the English Premiership clubs over player release for the England team and we're insisting that we have the same for the players who go to France if they wish to be in Martin's squad," added Andrew.

Johnson will announce his next Elite Performance Squad on 1 July and Andrew is adamant that the situation with French-based English players must be known by that point.

If players can't deliver everything we wish for then they will not be picked in the England EPS

RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew

"We're going to be very clear on this and if players can't deliver everything we wish for then they will not be picked," said Andrew.

"They've all been aware of this for quite some time - the players, their agents, their lawyers and the clubs themselves - and we're in good dialogue with the French clubs."

England are scheduled to tour Australia in June 2010, with the trip beginning before the conclusion of the French domestic season.

And Andrew hinted that if players based in France would be unable to make the tour it could hinder their chances of being selected for next year's Six Nations.

"We would look very seriously at that," he added.

"It's a year out from the 2001 World Cup in New Zealand - the last major tour to the Southern Hemisphere - and if we're going to find that we have players who can't come on the tour or can only come halfway through it then that will clearly impact on selection decisions.

"We're not going to invest a lot of time in players who are then going to disappear towards the end of the season. Those are decisions we won't make lightly."


A four-page letter, signed by Rugby Football Union chief Francis Baron, was sent to all members of Johnson's current elite squad last month warning that moving abroad could jeopardise their international status.

Damian Hopley, head of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, told BBC Sport: "We are taking legal advice.

"The concern is that this becomes a restraint of trade.

"You have to remember that it's not just a financial decision for players to go, but also about lifestyle and experience."

It has also been made clear that Johnson and his coaching staff will not travel to watch players in the French league.

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see also
RFU reveals World Cup pledge fear
30 Apr 09 |  English
Wilkinson holds talks with Toulon
16 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
RFU letter concerns player union
18 Mar 09 |  English
England talent drain worries RFU
19 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Money matters for Wasps
18 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Trio quit Wasps to play in France
17 Feb 09 |  London Wasps

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