Breaking exceptional circumstance rule 'worst thing for English rugby'
ESPN Staff
April 9, 2015
Steffon Armitage

England hooker Tom Youngs has backed the RFU's policy on not picking those based overseas.

Impressive performances by Toulon's Steffon Armitage and Clermont's Nick Abendanon has led to some calling for the duo to be included in England's pre-World Cup training squad. The RFU's current policy is to not pick those overseas unless in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Sir Clive Woodward has argued a World Cup is an 'exceptional circumstance' and Tweeted his support for Armitage and Abendanon's inclusion in the England mix at the weekend. But for Youngs, who is at Leicester, he says it will be a blow to morale if those overseas were fast-tracked into the England side.

"Over the last few years, the graft you have done to get into the England squad and then for someone to come from abroad to take your spot you would be pretty gutted," Youngs said in the Daily Telegraph. "I don't know how well it would go down with the whole team. It is not just the individual affected, but it is the other guys who might look upon that and might not agree with it.

"Stuart has built a culture within this group of players so it is a very tough decision for him. Does he want to disrupt it? That's a question you would have to ask him. Personally for me, if he brought someone in [to compete with me] I would be pretty annoyed like anyone else would be.

"The whole thing about playing for England, it still comes down to a player's decision whether to go across or not. No one is forced across there. It comes down to your personal decision whether you want to do something different and experience a different lifestyle then that's the decision you make by going across there, but then you jeopardise your England place."

Youngs' stance was also supported by Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea. He has four of the England squad in his team and said if England make a rule for one overseas case, then others will be tempted to follow suit.

"I am an Irishman speaking here so maybe I can speak more bluntly but if the exceptional circumstance rule is brought in then that would be the worst thing that has happened to English rugby," O'Shea said. "It is pure populism to say it is World Cup year and we should do anything we can because the minute you break that, you break the dam.

"A lot of people have made a lot of sacrifices and turned down a lot of money to stay here. I am not saying that Steffon Armitage or Nick Abendanon are not fabulous rugby players but it is up to people now to protect the game rather than listening to some populist stuff."

© ESPN Staff

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