Aviva Premiership
Bath handed Donald deadline
ESPNscrum Staff
July 21, 2011
Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald watches on, Chiefs v Cheetahs, Super 14, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, April 23, 2010
Donald is rumoured to have joined the Blues after his move to Bath seemed to have fallen through © Getty Images

Bath have been given an August 12 deadline to salvage their move for All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald.

The Aviva Premiership club had hoped to recruit the 27-year-old playmaker in the wake of the departure of Springboks international Butch James but they saw the move blocked by the Rugby Football Union who ruled he did not meet the criteria for overseas signings. The deal faltered on the fact that Donald has not started a Test for New Zealand in the last 15 months but the RFU have since clarified the appeal process that gives Bath three weeks to re-state their case.

The Bath Chronicle reports that the latest regulations governing the recruitment of overseas talent came into effect on May 16 after being signed off by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). But Bath had already begun discussions with Donald, capped 21 times but left out of the All Blacks' latest Tri-Nations squad, and had hoped to complete the deal due to that fact.

"Stephen Donald failed to meet the RFU Governing Body Endorsement criteria to play rugby in England, in accordance with UKBA requirements, because he has not started a game for New Zealand within the past 15 months," an RFU spokesperson said.

The UKBA argued that Donald's move to Bath would have an "adverse impact on the resident labour market" but left the door open for the RFU to decide on the case.

"The responsibility rests with sports governing bodies such as the Rugby Football Union to endorse sponsorship applications from clubs and the application of each sportsperson wishing to enter the UK," a spokesperson said. "This is because they are best placed to determine the skill level of a migrant and whether there will be an adverse impact on the resident labour market of their sport."

Bath are reported to be considering an appeal based around Donald's recent injury record - which included chest surgery in 2010.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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