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North deal breaks no rules - Saints

27th November 2013 10:57

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GEORGE NORTH NORTHAMPTON

Club controversy: George North

Northampton Saints have released a statement regarding George North playing for Wales outside the IRB international window.

Media reports suggested the club could be fined by Premiership Rugby for breaching league policy in allowing North to play for Wales against Australia on Saturday - a fixture that falls outside that designated IRB period.

On Wednesday, the Saints management released this statement:

"George is a world class player who in his short time at Franklin's Gardens has brought a great deal of excitement and quality, not just to the Saints but to the Aviva Premiership as a competition.

"When his signing was announced it was hailed in the media and by the league's hierarchy as a massive statement of intent by the club and a reflection of the competitive nature and high profile offered by the Premiership.

"Every player asks for specific conditions to be included in their agreements. This is not unusual in professional sport. In order to realise this rare opportunity of bringing a player like George to Franklin's Gardens we agreed to allow him to represent Wales if and when selected.

"The Saints management wants to make it clear that our agreement with George has not contravened any laws, rules or regulations. However when it was finalised the agreement included terms for his release to play international rugby which were outside Premiership Rugby board policy.

"George is a young man who is proud to represent his country. Indeed the club's management wants every player at the club to achieve the highest level they can, and wants every player to have the ambition to wear their respective national shirt.

"The club is also committed to adding depth to the playing squad, and working with someone of George's calibre has benefitted young, home-grown players like Jamie Elliott, Tom Collins and Howard Packman, all of whom have played first team rugby this season.

"The Saints management has sought to build a squad that can compete in every tournament. This involves both establishing a strong production line of local talent and bringing in world class players when they become available.

"Sometimes this requires compromise, and while we appreciate that we are outside Premiership Rugby board policy with this particular agreement we also believe that having George as a Northampton Saints player has benefitted both the club and the league as a whole."

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