Let’s shred se­lec­tion pol­icy that has never been used

The Rugby Paper - - News Rugby Championship -

THE WRU in­tro­duced their so-called se­lec­tion pol­icy four sea­sons ago on the premise that only home­based play­ers will be el­i­gi­ble for Wales. They have al­ways avoided putting that into prac­tice.

In De­cem­ber 2015, chief ex­ec­u­tive Mar­tyn Phillips said: “I do think the cur­rent se­lec­tion pol­icy will bite in the next 12 months’’. More than one of his re­gional coun­ter­parts ex­pected the bite to rule a num­ber of Welsh play­ers em­ployed at English and French clubs out of the series in New Zealand.

When The Rugby Pa­per ran a story to that ef­fect, the WRU claimed the pol­icy would not take ef­fect un­til the fol­low­ing sea­son. “Sooner or later some­body won’t get picked for Wales,’’ Phillips said.

But the rule was never ap­plied. When­ever the ques­tion arose, there was al­ways an ex­cuse: “We’re not talk­ing about it now be­cause we are all fo­cus­ing on the Six Na­tions.”

This sea­son the num­ber of wild­card picks of play­ers em­ployed out­side Wales has dou­bled from two to four. The of­fi­cial list of those who will have to rely on a wild­card was made known at the start of last sea­son. The up­dated list is still be­ing up­dated.

The deter­rent ef­fect against play­ers leav­ing Wales was shot to bits long be­fore Rhys Webb chose to join Toulon, hot on the heels of Dan Big­gar’s im­pend­ing exit to Northamp­ton. “I think the play­ers un­der­stand it,’’ Phillips said last year, re­fer­ring to the se­lec­tion pol­icy. “They know what they can and can’t do.”

Yes, they know that if they are good enough they can join a club on Mars know­ing the man­age­ment will keep on pick­ing them. The pol­icy, agreed with the re­gions as part of the 2014 peace set­tle­ment, weak­ens Wales’ abil­ity to win Test matches un­less ev­ery­one stays at home.

It’s as if the WRU know that and so can­not bring them­selves to im­ple­ment their own rule. It ought to have been shred­ded long ago.

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