England Rugby Union should limit the number of foriegn players allowed in each starting 1st XV
The English rugby world was struck with a interesting bit of this week (23rd February 2009). Saracens, a premiership rugby team based in London is being taken over by a South African group, and before anyone had any time to react to that, fourteen of local English talent were told they are no longer necessary for the next season as the new management hopes to bring over some 'bok' talent. This surely must be rectified before rugby falls into the trap that football has. Where the country runs a world class league but cannot field a world class team.
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Develop local rugby players
England has slipped into a all time low in the world rankings this week. This is partly due to the lack of opportunities given to our local players. Although I do enjoy how foreign players has brought a more diverse playing style into the league, the international team has suffered. I for one blame the lack of experience, on the dominance of foreign players in the league.
Even in football, Manchester United goal keeper Foster, has consistently been denied 1st team spot but hailed as the hero of the Carling Cup victory. Yet I am pretty certain Edwin Van de Saar will return to his spot the very next United game.
Foreign players acts as further challenges to local players, a more interesting fight for the starting lineup. It does not prevent the development of local players but increase the level they should strive for.
Increase national interest and pride in the game of rugby
Rugby is not a very well supported club sport in England compared to the lights of football. It is still being viewed as a middle class sport not for the wider public. There are plenty of great players with plenty of potential in this country but are not given the opportunity to develop their game.
A selection of one of these players can bring with it new fans and interest from friends and family of that particular player. When Matthew Tait started for Newcastle Falcons in his late teens, the majority of Barnard Castle School turned up to his first game. Many felt proud of his achievements and continue to follow his career from that. As a result the Falcons has benefited as well as educating the country on the sport.
The model of limiting players based on origin and experience exists in the highly successful Indian Premier League. There is no reason why it won't succeed in England.
The English Premier League has increased both its national and international appeal through the recruitment of the very best foreign players, with a bit of help from the personal futures of some very wealthy owners.
National interest in the game will come from an awareness that the very best proponents are playing in your local area, for your team. This will have the added effect, through exposure at training and in team meetings, of improving the local talent.
There is nothing stopping local players going else where
Why should we stop other players coming in when there is nothing stopping our players going out there? Look at the North American basketball system where plenty of college grad players come over to the European league and likewise plenty are signed over. There is no barrier to entry. Just look at James Haskell, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer!
Foreign players are deterred to come over in the first place as the southern hemisphere national teams only look at players playing locally, with the exception of Dan Carter. But as of yet there are no such regulations issued by the RFU. I say we sponsor our boys to go out there to learn from the best since our system has been failing for quite some time now.
It could lower the level of competition
If you give in to ways that allow players to work less hard but still manage to get into the starting line up, it can have the opposite effect where certain players may think their place is now more secured as managers are restricted on how they select their players and in turn lower the level of rugby being performed.
What do you think?