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Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Wednesday, 2 June 2010 10:03 UK

South Africa's Butch James withdrawn from Wales Test

Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 5 June Kick-off: 1430 BST
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO Wales & online, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru & online, score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website

Butch James trains with South Africa in Cardiff on Tuesday
James has not played for South Africa since August 2008

South Africa have withdrawn centre Butch James from Saturday's Test with Wales in Cardiff because of a dispute over the Bath player's eligibility.

The English Premiership clubs' umbrella organisation Premier Rugby objected to his selection as the game is not in the International Rugby Board Test window.

James is replaced in the squad by Bulls full-back Zane Kirchner, who will join the Springboks in Cardiff on Thursday.

Bulls lock Victor Matfield is called up in place of the injured Andries Bekker.

Bekker suffered a foot injury playing for the Stormers in their Super 14 final loss against rival South Africa side the Bulls - captained by Matfield - last Saturday.

There were also injury doubts over Bulls open-side flanker Dewald Potgieter and replacement Juan de Jongh, from the Stormers, and the Springbok management will confirm a revised Test line-up later on Wednesday.

Matfield was one of several world-class players originally left behind to rest in South Africa, including back-row Schalk Burger and wing Bryan Habana.

James, 31, has not played Test rugby for more than two years and was due to start at inside centre at the Millennium Stadium, although he has starred for Bath at fly-half this season.

It is very unfortunate for Butch, who is very keen to play for his country again

Bath Rugby statement

The Johannesburg-born player, who has won 35 caps for South Africa, and four other European-based players were given a surprise recall by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers for Saturday's Test in Cardiff, as players based overseas have been overlooked in the past.

Whether James, Toulon's Joe van Niekerk, Racing Metro's Frans Steyn, and Ireland-based duo CJ van der Linde and BJ Botha will be required for other June Tests - once De Villiers has a full squad to choose from - remains to be seen.

This week Premier Rugby also blocked Scotland's selection of four Gloucester players against a Japan Select XV, with Rory Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson, Alasdair Strokosch and Scott Lawson having to stand down for Tuesday's game.

Bath Rugby asked James to withdraw from the Springbok side after the objection from Premier Rugby and the club clarified its position in a statement: "Unfortunately Bath Rugby has had to withdraw Butch James from the match between South Africa and Wales this weekend as the date falls outside the international 'window' for June, agreed by all parties last year.

"Sadly the club didn't receive the letter from Saru [the South African Rugby Union], sent on 20 April, asking for Butch to play, so the issue has only quite recently come to our attention and we have sought clarification from the IRB as Saru were under the impression this weekend was within the agreed window.

"The first weekend in June is designated for rest and travel and not for matches, this is based primarily upon player welfare needs, to enable them to recuperate after the end of the season and before the summer internationals, which take place on the three subsequent weekends in June.

"It is very unfortunate for Butch, who is very keen to play for his country again, and we are fully supportive of this, but it does need to be within the internationally agreed parameters.


"We hope that he will get his chance next weekend and have explained the situation fully to him this evening [Tuesday] on the phone and apologised for the inconvenience and disappointment he has suffered."

After playing Wales, the Springboks return home to play France the following Saturday in Cape Town, followed by a two-Test series against tourists Italy, in Witbank and East London.

Premier Rugby, the umbrella group that represents the Guinness Premiership clubs, said: "The situation on release of international players for the June window is clear under IRB Regulation 9.

"The release of players is required for matches on the second, third and fourth weekends of June, and for five clear training days in advance. This release is intended for matches being played in the southern hemisphere.

"The first weekend in June is not part of the IRB release period, and unions have no right to release of players from the clubs.

"In the interests of player welfare, which the IRB Working Accord made the top priority, this first weekend was intended under the regulation to be a period of travel for the players so they would be in best condition for the June Tests in the southern hemisphere.

"This now appears to be compromised by international matches being arranged in the northern hemisphere for apparently commercial reasons."

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