English rugby chiefs in selection disagreement

The power brokers of English rugby are in disagreement over the rules regarding the selection of overseas-based players for the national side.

Since 2012, England are only allowed to pick those who play in the Premiership, unless in “exceptional circumstances”.

However Premiership Rugby believes that clause was scrapped as part of the latest Professional Game Agreement.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) insists the clause is still active, and says no such changes were made to the PGA.

The confusion comes at a time when the non-selection of French-based players is again on the agenda, with Toulon’s Chris Ashton scoring a hat-trick for the Barbarians in the 63-45 defeat of England on Sunday.

Ashton also smashed the Top 14 try-scoring record this season, and has voiced his intent to again play for his country.

The 31-year-old winger has not played for England under current coach Eddie Jones and won his last cap in 2014.

But while the RFU and Premiership clubs are both in broad agreement over the selection policy, the uncertainty over the “exceptional circumstances” stipulation has served to muddy the waters.

The clause has yet to be invoked by an England head coach, and is believed to apply in the event of a unique injury crisis.

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