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Re: Foreign & Kolpak players post Brexit
Posted by: TimothyQ
Date: 13/02/2020 14:08
TLDR - I don't think much will change and if it does, it won't be overnight. Also, slightly off-topic rant about academy recruitment

It will be interesting to see how these things play out, but I think it is unlikely we will move towards a permanent solution for several years.

Under the current laws, Premiership Rugby can enforce any rule it wants on overseas players as the majority of overseas players are from Kolpak countries and cannot be discriminated against under FOM rules. This means that the two foreigners limit can be imposed regardless of whether it is arbitrary, whether it affects some clubs more than others and whether it harms the standard of our domestic game (and, by extension, harms the development of our domestic players). This is handy for PR as it allows them to talk tough without doing anything meaningful.

If this restraint is removed from PR (we will wait and see what the next few years hold), then it will have to decide what sort of overseas player policy it wants to have. It is going to have to balance the need for a high-quality competition with the need for opportunities for young English players. It will also have to consider the financial health of clubs, contracts that are already in place and many other factors which I am sure will come to light as this debate rumbles on.

If PR does decide to reward clubs which bring through players (which is fair enough), then I think it also needs to look at the inequality in clubs ability to recruit young players. I live in rural Sussex, and I know that the academy recruitment situation is entirely different here than it is to Bristol. Quins recruit from Surrey, Sussex and a big chunk of London which is a massive area. Weirdly, I am led to believe that Saracens recruit from Kent because there isn't a club in the area. In contrast, Bristol, Bath and Exeter need to fight for talent from Somerset. I don't think there are easy solutions to this, but if PR curtail the ability of clubs to recruit from overseas, then they will need to ensure that clubs have a reasonable catchment area to develop.

Back on topic, PR is owned by the clubs and by CVC. CVC want the sport to be commercially successful, and the clubs want for their businesses to work. I doubt that either the clubs or CVC would support a policy which damages the commercial interests of the clubs or makes the game less attractive to advertisers/broadcasters. The only interested party who might favour a hard-line is the RFU, but I doubt they have enough clout to overrule the wishes of the clubs and CVC.

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