Let’s shred selection policy that has never been used
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.