Premiership's directors of rugby vote on England's overseas player policy - Ruck

Premiership’s directors of rugby vote on England’s overseas player policy

A number of the Premiership’s leading figures have called for the RFU to stick with their current policy on overseas players being unavailable for England.

Join the RUCK’s WhatsApp community here  and get the latest news sent straight to your messages.

A number of England star players, including former captain Owen Farrell and world-class flanker Jack Willis, will play in France next season, making them ineligible for the national side.

But top directors of rugby agree the rule must stay if the Premiership is to catch the Top 14 and become the best in the world.

“It is one of the carrots that keep players in the country,” said Northampton’s Phil Dowson.

“If all the best players leave because the financial incentives are such – and you can still play for England – then the league looks a very different place I think.

“I’m grateful that if you want to play for England you still have to play in England – that is a rule which certainly I support,” added Mark McCall of Saracens.

“It’s a fair decision,” said Bath’s Johann van Graan.

“I have a view that people will come and people will go. It is our job to catch the Top 14 and become the best league in the world.

“It is always unfortunate when you lose players, but that’s life, and new players will come and they will become heroes.”

Five biggest shocks from Borthwick’s latest squad – Zach Mercer left out again

There were a number of high-profile absentees as Steve Borthwick named a 19-player training squad to begin preparations for the forthcoming Summer Series against Japan and New Zealand.

The squad will assemble at Pennyhill Park on Monday 27 May for a four-day training camp.

England’s Summer Series begins on Saturday 22 June with a Test match against Japan in Tokyo before embarking on a two-Test tour of New Zealand in July.

England training squad (19 players)


Fin Baxter (Harlequins)

Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins)

Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)

Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs)

Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)

George Martin (Leicester Tigers)

Gabriel Oghre (Bristol Bears)

Guy Pepper (Newcastle Falcons)

Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs)

Rusi Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)


Charlie Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby)

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs)

Max Malins (Bristol Bears)

Luke Northmore (Harlequins)  

Harry Randall (Bristol Bears) 

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)

Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)

High-profile absentees:

#1.Joe Launchbury (Harlequins)

There have been rumours that the veteran might have done enough to earn a recall. Although he missed the last few games due to a calf injury, there’s still a good chance he could join the squad as the final announcement approaches.

Joe Launchbury of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins at Kingsholm Stadium on October 14th, 2023 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Phil Mingo/PPAUK/Gallagher)

#2. Zach Mercer (Gloucester)

There was a lot of buzz this week about Mercer possibly returning to the international team. However, yet another squad was announced without him being recalled. The sidelined number 8 must be questioning what more he needs to do to earn a spot on the team.

Zach Mercer of Gloucester Rugby during the Challenge Cup Final Match between Gloucester Rugby and Hollywoodbets Sharks at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 24 May 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK