Wales v South Africa, Millennium Stadium, June 5
Premier Rugby takes James row to IRB
June 4, 2010
South Africa's Butch James talks to the media at the Hilton, Cardiff, Wales, June 1, 2010
Butch James has been at the centre of a club v country row © Getty Images

Premier Rugby will make a formal complaint to the IRB over comments attributed to the South African Rugby Union (SARU) in the wake of the Butch James club v country row.

The Bath back had been slated to start in the centre for South Africa against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, but was withdrawn on the orders of Premier Rugby, the umbrella body responsible for Guinness Premiership clubs, due to the fixture falling outside of the IRB's agreed June Test window.

SARU were angered by the stance, highlighting what they see as an irregularity as Premiership players have been cleared to play for the Barbarians against Ireland on Friday night.

"SARU, Bath and Butch were all keen to see Butch play but the rule has been strictly enforced," SARU president Oregan Hoskins said. "What's particularly frustrating is that Schalk Brits has just played 33 matches for Saracens and can be released to play for the Barbarians against Ireland this weekend, whereas Butch has played barely a dozen matches this season and he can't play against Wales."

Premier Rugby has since accused SARU of not understanding IRB regulations prior to agreeing to take part in what is "primarily a money-making exercise."

"Premier Rugby will regrettably have to make a formal complaint to the IRB alleging a breach of international regulations by SARU through their actions and statements this week," a statement read. "These actions and statements have been repeatedly directed against Bath Rugby and Premier Rugby and seem to have been designed to put unfair pressure on the player and his club, who have acted in accordance with the IRB's regulations and to deflect attention away from the real causes of the issue.

"June matches in the international calendar are played in the southern hemisphere and the schedule is settled years in advance. Apparently this extra one-off match outside the schedule and in the northern hemisphere was only arranged earlier this year and seems to be primarily a money-making exercise for which SARU is apparently receiving a large fee.

"When arranging a match outside the international window, all Unions should be aware of their regulations concerning player release. On Wednesday, it became clear that SARU had not properly understood these regulations. As a result, actions have been taken and statements made by SARU which have been damaging to the interests of the player, his club and Premier Rugby."


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