One poor member of the Bath staff was tasked this week with phoning the South African management team to explain why Butch James wouldn’t be playing for them against South Africa.
The South Africa v Wales game this weekend falls outside of the agreed Test window, meaning that Bath were entitled to withdraw James from duty.
I’m not sure how James will be feeling about it though – he’d been selected in the centre, and as an overseas player, this was a rare opportunity to wear the Springbok jersey and put himself back in the minds of the selectors ahead of World Cup year.
In rather comical fashion, the postal strikes have been blamed, with Bath claiming that they never received the letter from the SARU requesting permission for James to play. Based on the other reasons for pulling him out though, it sounds like they would have refused anyway.
As with every club v country struggle, player welfare is cited as the primary concern, but the irony is that the only person you feel sorry for is the player themselves.
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