Domestic finals to lead to tour shambles in 2014

The home nations and France are facing the prospect of having to travel to their summer tours in 2014 shorn of their best players. With domestic finals the weekend before the first tests, players from England, Wales, France and Ireland involved in these finals would not be available in time for the first game on tour.

England will be forced to field a severely weakened side for the first test in next summer’s three game series in New Zealand, after the IRB ruled that the series could not be delayed by a week. Wales and Ireland face similar situations, if their teams are involved in the RaboDirect PRO12 final, while any French players involved in the Top 14 final will also miss their first test against Australia.

England play three matches against New Zealand on the tour – on 7th, 14th and 21st June – but with the Premiership Final on May 31st, and players not able to fly out until the next day, anyone involved in it will not be available in time for the first test.

Ireland also play the first of two tests against Argentina on the 7th, with the RaboDirect PRO12 final also falling on May 31st. They have also had an appeal to the IRB turned down. Wales are yet to announce the dates of their two tests against South Africa, so may be able to avoid the issue if they can move them back a week.

Stuart Lancaster is understood to be deeply frustrated with the situation – with test game time rapidly running out in the lead up to RWC 2015, he would have wanted his group of players together for the whole series.

An England spokesman, quoted in The Times, said: “Because of the Premiership final, England will, due to restricted training time and jet lag recovery protocol, be without certain players for the first match. While this situation is not perfect, it is an opportunity for a wider group of England players to put a marker down.”

So, imagine last year’s Premiership finalists (Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints) make it to the showpiece event at Twickenham again in 2014; these are the players that would be missing from England’s squad (should it reflect the current one):

Dan Cole
Alex Corbisiero
Dylan Hartley
Courtney Lawes
Geoff Parling
Tom Wood
Tom Youngs
Luther Burrell
Lee Dickson
Toby Flood
Ben Foden
Manu Tuilagi
Ben Youngs

Quite an absentee list, for what is already the most difficult fixture in international rugby. The situation for Ireland could be even worse – with their players effectively coming from three provinces, if two of them were to make it to the final (not a particularly unlikely scenario, given their relative strengths) the national team would be almost unrecognisable.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

22 thoughts on “Domestic finals to lead to tour shambles in 2014

  1. The NH end of season 3 test series against the mighty SH powers should be scrapped. Since the 3 test summer tour format has returned no NH side has won a match. England’s draw against SA in the 3rd test in 2012 is the only result of “note” – 11 losses and 1 draw out of 12!

    Give them an extra week to prepare so ALL players involved in domestic finals are rested and available. 1-2 tests against the big guns and a match against a tier two nation, in their own backyard… Discuss!

    1. are Scotland not a NH team now?

      also, you know, Scotland have summer tests and pro teams that could get to the Pro12 final. If Glasgow continue on their current form, they are more than likely to get to the Pro12 final, depriving Scotland of a large number of internationals for their test v USA on the 7th.

        1. Seems like a strange comment based on Scotland beating Australia last time they played down there. They also came 3rd in the 6 Nations this year.

          How are they not noteworthy?

          1. Um because a full strength Scotland side scraped past a 2nd/3rd string Australian side in a monsoon, oh lets bring up the Tonga result now shall we?

            1. Genia, Hogginbottom, Pocock, Barnes, Ioane, Moore, Sharpe, Timani, Slipper, Faingaa, Tomane.

              Don’t mind me I’m just listing some 2nd/3rd string Australians that played that day.

              1. Tonga, not mentioning the Tonga result on home soil after the Australia result then? Scotland are not noteworthy they only finished 3rd because France had a mare of a tournament, look at the rest of the six nations recently, their world cup finishes and results against top tier nations, they are easily the second worst if not worst Northern Hemisphere side!

                1. Oh dear, here we go again. To summarise:

                  a) Claiming your/a side lost due to outside circumstances e.g. bad stomach = whining.

                  b) Claiming a win for Team B against Team A doesn’t count because Team A were under strength = whining.

                2. Absolutely not; nightmare losing to Tonga.

                  Scotland also beat Ireland in the 6N can I point out?

                  They clearly aren’t one of the strongest side in the world; but that doesn’t mean that they are not a NH side.

                  Scotland have also beaten SA more recently that Wales have – does that mean that they are better than Wales? Or was someone under strength that day too?

                  You’re talking nonsense. Scotland are not one of the best sides; but they are clearly “of note”.

  2. This seems crazy. How can this be allowed to happen? Having a punt on a potential England team with those players missing:

    1. Vunipola 2. Webber 3. Wilson. 4. Launchbury 5. Attwood 6. Johnson 7. Robshaw 8. Vunipola 9. Care 10. Farrell 11. Yarde 12. Twelvetrees 13. Tomkins 14. Ashton 15. Brown

    Actually, in writing that on paper it isn’t as bad as I imagined… still not ideal.

    I would assume the AP final will be between two of Leicester/ Saints/ Saracens – so there should be enough which ever of the two make it.

  3. On the plus side if Sarries get to the final Ashton and Goode will not be in the 23! We might see some wingers on the wing?

  4. Isn’t the first test at Eden park anyway?
    At least we’ll have our best players for the 2 tests we’re more likely to win.

  5. The worst part of it is that we won’t even have a coherent team for the second test with the amount of preparation time the players will have. Definitely makes a farce of the organisation. Funny that nz don’t want to change the timings. It’s almost as if they are scared of a full strength England!

  6. Whilst annoying, if everyone is fit (big if), the team we could put out is pretty competitive regardless of who is in the final. From an England point of view, it would be nice if it was Bath vs Quins in the final, as they both could get in the top 4 (wouldn’t bet on it though!)

    Considering Saracens and Northampton have been the two strongest sides by far- they would be favourites to make the final (although never rule out the tigers)

    Marler, Youngs, Wilson, Launchbury, Parling, Robshaw, Kvesic, Morgan, Youngs, Flood, Yarde, Twelvetrees, Tuilagi, Wade, Foden.

    Not a bad line up by any means- that back line is many peoples first choice anyway!

  7. The Welsh masterplan finally revealed – put our best players into middling Welsh regions and middling French clubs…

    I fully expect to be be kicking myself about this quip by end of today when the news that Ian Evans, 1/2p and Warbs have all signed for Toulon is announced…

    1. The English masterplan revealed. Book overseas tours at times when the vast majority of the players can’t make it, to save on the wear and tear on these players running up to the ’15 World Cup as we already have a settled team and game plan that is running smoothly, needing no work or game time……………oh dear, we may not have thought this through!

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