Northampton facing North fine

george north
Northampton Saints could face a fine from Premiership Rugby after agreeing to release Wales star George North for international duty, despite the fixture against Australia falling outside the official IRB window.

North, who joined Saints from the Scarlets over the summer, has a clause in his contract that stipulates he can be released for all international matches, including those that fall outside of the window. Premiership Rugby’s policy, however, states that no non-England qualified players shall be released for those camps or matches.

The matter is to be investigated over the coming days, with the most likely outcome being a fine for the East Midlands club.

Elsewhere in the squad, fellow Lions wing Alex Cuthbert could make a surprise and welcome return to the starting line-up after returning to training with the squad in the Vale of Glamorgan yesterday. Cuthbert has made a quicker recovery than expected, after being told that he would miss the entire autumn series when he injured his ankle in a Heineken Cup game against Toulon.

It was welcome news for Warren Gatland and his Wales coaches, who have been without several top players for some or all of the four test series.

Shaun Edwards, Wales’ defence coach, said: “Scott Williams is progressing well, so is Liam Williams, James King has come into the squad and Alex Cuthbert is with us, being monitored by the Blues staff and by us. We have not officially called him into the squad yet, but he is being assessed.

“Obviously, fingers crossed, he may be fit. You always want your best ­players fit and Alex is a player who basically scored the winning try in the last two Six Nations.”

Wales go in search of ending a horrific run against the Southern Hemisphere’s big three, that has seen them lose their last 17 games against them.

“It is frustrating, but we have to play for 80 minutes, we cannot switch off, mentally or physically,” said Edwards, who was alongside Gatland in Melbourne and Sydney last year when Wales came within a whisker of winning on both occasions, losing 25-23 and 20-19. ”

Tactically we have to be absolutely perfect. The problem when you are playing against sides like this is that any crack or any part of the game you are poor in, they will exploit it.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

14 thoughts on “Northampton facing North fine

  1. Premiership Rugby need to stay out of the North situation. It is very good of Saints to release him.

    International Rugby should come first whether they are English or not.

    1. I think there is an element of concern that releasing a Welsh player outside of the IRB mandated test window could potentially undermine the EPS agreement with the RFU which is the only agreement which has been filtered by the PRL.

      It sounds like North has done everything right by him and Wales, but Northampton have messed up the contract so they are currently obliged in agreement with North’s contract to release him and their agreement with PRL to not release him. Bit of a mess really. I hadn’t heard that North had a clause in his contract as before the internationals Jim Mallinder said he was mulling over whether or not to release him.

      The real question though is why the hell do Wales keep arranging a test outside of the window?

      1. I can see your point about it undermining the EPS; but then I still don’t always agree with that.

        It is a simple principle for me; country before club.

        I know the clubs and the Premiership may not like it; and there has to be some level of understanding in place that the clubs and the league deserve a level of assistance and respect, but fundamentally I completely agree with North and Saints allowing this to happen.

        1. If it’s about principle, then Northants should give back all the EPS money they get and release English players for free as they have just done for Wales. Sorry but you cant have it both ways. Unless of course the WRFU want to compensate Northants accordingly.

          1. That’s a fair point. Be interesting to see what Saints have to say about this. They must have known this may happen when they negotiated the contract with North?

  2. I don’t quite understand what business it is of premiership rugby. I understand they want to keep the league as strong as possible every week but they don’t fine clubs when they rest a top flight player. the whole situation sounds bonkers to me.

    Good for North for putting it in his contract and good on the Saints for honouring it.

    1. Because the RFU give the clubs millions of pounds to get this kind of access. If Clubs start giving this access for nothing, then what incentive is there for the RFU to continue to pay such large sums when the EPS is renegotiated. This might not affect a profitbale club like Northants, but could have a big impact on smaller clubs.

      If Wales choose to have internationals outside of the agree IRB windows, then they have to pay up or take the consequences.

  3. Good on Saints for releasing him.

    Premiership rugby’s actions are dangerously leaning towards the French way of doing things.

    If you maintain the notion that players cannot be released, you will not attract the top level international players that people want to see week in week out.

    1. You seem to contradict yourself slightly there Andy.

      As you’ve rightly pointed out, the French tend to have a club first policy, but it certainly hasn’t stopped top internationals from going there.

      The French teams never release players outside of the window but many international players have accepted that in exchange fora bucket load of money. Whilst the English can not yet offer the money the French can, I reckon North earns a fair whack.

  4. So, PRL represent the clubs. Including Northampton of course.

    If I was being cynical, I would suggest that this is not about North and Northampton at all, but instead making this very public in order that the next “big” players to come into the Premiership do not expect to be released for non-window Internationals, or at least do not insist on this contractual clause.

    Even more machiavellian, they may be making these noises at the behest of the French clubs, who do not want such contractual clauses either, and see this as an issue that can be balance against their support (or otherwise) for the PRL Euro ambitions.

    This is IF I were to be cynical of course.

  5. Sorry but in this case PRL are not the bad guys. Northampton has signed an agreement (as did all 12 prem clubs) which they have now broken. Why should RFU pay big money to the clubs for extra access to players if clubs then give that for free to other unions!

Comments are closed.