Ex­eter ‘wanted £250k’ for Blues to sign Fran­cis

The Rugby Paper - - News -

WALES have aban­doned plans to sign Ex­eter prop Tomas Fran­cis be­cause his club de­manded a ‘silly’ trans­fer fee of £250,000.

The sum can be re­vealed as the stum­bling block be­hind the Welsh Rugby Union’s joint bid with the Blues to bring the 25-yearold tight­head to Cardiff on a na­tional dual con­tract.

“We were told by the player’s agent that Ex­eter would be pre­pared to re­lease Fran­cis,’’ a Blues source said. “We en­tered into joint dis­cus­sions with the WRU and were given a silly num­ber from Ex­eter for his trans­fer.

Stephen Jones’ late with­drawal as Wales at­tack coach for next month’s Tests against Tonga and Samoa has prompted wide­spread spec­u­la­tion over the rea­sons be­hind his de­ci­sion.

Only last month Jones, Wales’ most-capped fly half, spoke in en­thu­si­as­tic tones about the mis­sion. “I’m ex­cited and hon­oured to go with Wales. For me it’s an op­por­tu­nity to learn and get bet­ter.’’

This week the Scar­lets’ backs coach cited his team’s pres­ence in the PRO12 play-offs which takes them to Dublin for a semi-fi­nal against Le­in­ster on Fri­day. He said: “Reach­ing the play-offs means an ex­tended sea­son and in­creased work­load. I can’t give my un­di­vided at­ten­tion for the tour.’’

The Scar­lets qual­i­fied for the play-offs a month ago. Rather than pull out then, the tim­ing of Jones’ an­nounce­ment has raised ques­tions.”

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