English Rugby
Dallaglio calls for Wilkinson ban
ESPNscrum Staff
January 2, 2011
England's Lawrence Dallaglio embraces team-mate Jonny Wilkinson, Australia v England, Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final, Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France, October 6, 2007
Dallaglio embraces Wilkinson following England's Rugby World Cup quarter-final victory over Australia in 2007 © Getty Images

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio believes Jonny Wilkinson should be banned from for playing for his country after committing his future to French Top 14 club Toulon.

Speaking in an interview with Rugby World, Dallaglio outlines his view that once a player accepts a big money move abroad he gives up the right to play for England. His hard-hitting comments follow the Rugby Football Union recent announcement that players based outside of England following the next World Cup would only be selected for national duty under "exceptional circumstances".

But Dallaglio's preference would be to go one step further and have players like Wilkinson dropped from the squad for this year's Six Nations Championship and ruled out of the World Cup equation.

"It's clear to me that if you want to play for your country you stay in your country," said Dallaglio. "If you want to go and earn lots of money then by all means do that, but don't expect to play for your country."

Wilkinson, who recently agreed a contract extension with Toulon that will see him stay in the south of France until the summer of 2013, would not be the only victim of such a ban with Stade Francais back row James Haskell and lock Tom Palmer also currently playing French rugby's top flight.

"I back the RFU's decision to favour the home-based players. I'm staunchly patriotic and England should have done it two or three years ago," said Dallaglio. "I believe the basis for a strong national team is having a strong domestic competition. The only way to get that is by having your best players playing. If I was a sponsor and wanted to inject millions into English rugby, I'd want to know the biggest names in England would be playing."

Dallaglio, who opted against a move abroad during an 18-year career, also believes that the new deal between the RFU and England's top clubs gives national team manager Martin Johnson an ideal platform to build a successful team.

"In terms of looking after players physically, mentally and medically, it's much easier to do that when they aren't travelling to and from training," said Dallaglio. "You should also be playing with and against England team-mates, to give you a pecking order."

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