CHRIS FOY: The Premiership standoff with the Lions is nothing more than a cash grabbing exercise

0

It is time for another demonstration of player power to avert the threat of injustice over the selection of Lions.

Warren Gatland revealed last week that a dispute with the English Premier League clubs over player releases means he can avoid choosing many of their players for the trip to South Africa this summer.

It is absurd that Premier League officials have not yet agreed to allow even those players whose club campaigns have ended to join the Lions for a pre-tour training camp in Jersey – and the policy would also apply to the Saracens contingent in the championship.

Warren Gatland can avoid choosing Premiership players due to a dispute with their clubs

This pathetic showdown is nothing more than a money-grabbing exercise and shows how rugby is endlessly undermined by petty self-interest. The game’s governance is an embarrassing joke.

It takes so much for a tour to take place in these Covid-disrupted times, so the fact that there’s another bickering like this going on two and a half weeks before Gatland names his tour crew the faith.

The Premiership managed to play a series of weekday matches last season to complete the match schedule and appease their broadcast partner and sponsors, but they can’t cut a week off this campaign to help the endangered lions.

In 2017, at the end of an epic series against the All Blacks, tour manager John Spencer raised the alarm that Premiership players would be dropped from future squads due to the attitude of their league.

England and Saracens captain Owen Farrell could miss this year's Lions tour

England and Saracens captain Owen Farrell could miss this year’s Lions tour

He said, “We’ve been talking about this for eight years. It’s the very same problems that come up every time. ‘

Nothing has changed since Spencer’s passionate advocacy, other than reducing the number of tours from 10 to eight.

So Gatland was right to point out this little money grab and how it could affect the ambitions of English players and a handful of leading Scots and Welshmen in the premier league.

Looking through the competition, he may only consider Tom Curry, Taulupe Faletau and Stuart Hogg as key figures he can’t afford without traveling.

Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje from Saracens also fall into that category. The rest all compete with rivals from the Pro 14.

Saracens star Maro Itoje would be a key member of the Lions squad if selected

Saracens star Maro Itoje would be a key member of the Lions squad if selected

For players, the Lions remain a glorious career highlight that they all want to achieve. So those threatened by the feud must jointly declare that they are available, and if chosen on merit, they will travel to Jersey – unless they are involved in the Premiership finale.

When united, they have nothing to fear. The clubs cannot begin to fire their headlights because they dare to train with the Lions.

Player power forced authorities to significantly change the World Cup match schedule so that it can force the hand of the narrow-minded, shadowy figures who claim to act on their behalf.

Wasps collapse at Exeter

Lee Blackett will be alarmed by the way Wasps’ last defeat happened, when they collapsed at Exeter in the last half hour and leaked three attempts in the last 11 minutes.

The calmness of the visitors left them with too many wild passes and avoidable mistakes. The fairytale revival in the second half of the 2019-2020 campaign has given way to a period of unrest.

Defense coach Ian Costello is leaving to become Munster’s academy manager and attack coach Martin Gleeson is reportedly a target for Eddie Jones to join the English lineup.

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett will be alarmed at nature of his side's defeat against Exeter

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett will be alarmed at nature of his side’s defeat against Exeter

Blackett and Wasps have a huge range of talents, but they need to regroup quickly. They are ninth on the list, just six months after they nearly won the title. That’s an uncomfortable setback.

Suspicion of new Rugby franchises

World Rugby and Southern Hemisphere authorities must clarify the creation of two new Pacific Islands Super Rugby franchises.

This project is funded in part by the global governing body, so they need to make sure it isn’t hijacked. There are no concerns about the Fijian Drua team as it will be based in Fiji with a squad of players from the country.

But officials in Samoa and Tonga – as well as leading Polynesian players – are concerned about a lack of detail regarding the Moana Pasifika franchise, with growing suspicions that it will be based in New Zealand and serve as another development tool for the All Blacks.

Samoa and Tonga fear plans for two new rugby franchises will only serve the All Blacks

Samoa and Tonga fear plans for two new rugby franchises will only serve the All Blacks

If World Rugby is to promote growth in the region, they must ensure that it benefits all Pacific islands. Moana Pasifika should organize competitions in Apia and Nuku’alofa, where investment in facilities has made this feasible. The team must also be made up of Samoan and Tongan players to be true to the acclaimed mission.

Top solo try

Bristol fullback Max Malins took the ball almost halfway into Kingston Park, burst straight to the right, leaving Tom Penny in a twist as he dumbled to pass, but instead swung in to score.

Max Malins scored a beautiful individual try against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday

Max Malins scored a beautiful individual try against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday

Route one

Luke Cowan-Dickie was excellent for Exeter – and direct. He rushed through the wasps half early, thinking about a shimmy or a load, but content to repel Jacob Umaga.

Multifunctional

Alex Sanderson, Sale’s director of rugby, praised Tom Curry’s latest feat: ‘He plays like two or three men. You have an advantage if you have him on the field. ‘

Saleswoman Tom Curry (right), according to Alex Sanderson, plays as effectively as two or three men

Saleswoman Tom Curry (right), according to Alex Sanderson, plays as effectively as two or three men

Harmful score

France defeated Ireland 56-15 in Dublin in the Women’s Six Nations to set up a predictable final against England. The beating once again highlighted the gap between the top two and the rest.

Reboot

Exeter fullback Stuart Hogg was gunned down for Josh Bassett’s attempt, but recovered well and ended a fine showing with a long spiral kick, spirited chase and controlled footwork to score his second of the day.

CHRIS FOY’S TEAM OF THE WEEK

15 S Hogg (Exeter) 14 O Sleightholme (Northampton)

2 L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter) 13 F Dingwall (Northampton)

3 W Louw (Harlequins) 12 A Esterhuizen (Harlequins)

4 J Hill (Exeter) 11 W Muir (Bath)

5 C Vui (Bristol) 10 M Smith (Harlequin)

6 T Curry (sale) 9 A Mitchell (Northampton)

8 Z Mercer (Bath) 1 E Genge (Leicester)

7 B Earl (Bristol)