Ben Earl warns RFU against setting ‘dangerous precedent’ on overseas policy

Colin Newboult
Ben Earl has backed the Rugby Football Union's overseas policy.

Ben Earl has backed the Rugby Football Union's overseas policy.

Star England number eight Ben Earl has backed the Rugby Football Union’s overseas policy, suggesting that changing it could open the floodgates.

After Jack Willis’ performance for Toulouse in the Champions Cup final and the increasing number of Red Rose internationals departing for France, some have called on the governing body to alter their eligibility law.

Even current player Ellis Genge, who remains a key part of the England set-up and is attached to Premiership side Bristol Bears, believes that it is holding the country back.

Earl’s view

But Earl takes the opposite viewpoint and has warned what might happen should the RFU bow to pressure and take away the current Test incentive they have.

“There’s extenuating circumstances like Jack, like Henry Arundell, those kind of guys, and they can’t help being there, but I think we have to keep the value in the league,” the Saracens back-rower told The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.

“We talk about trying to get the league and the product being as good as it’s been. Having played in the Premiership this year, the product’s never been better, the games have never been more tightly contested, the games have never been harder because you’ve got a higher concentration of better players.

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“I don’t know how many people would go but, if you allow people to play for England and play in France through their choice, I think you could see a good chunk of young English talent getting out there quite quickly.

“That’s a dangerous precedent to set.”

Tindall’s view

Earl himself would not be short of offers should he make himself available to Top 14 clubs but, at the moment, he is content to stay at Sarries.

The number eight, who is equally excellent at openside flanker, was appearing on the show alongside England Rugby World Cup winner Mike Tindall.

And the former centre disagrees with Earl, stating that he doesn’t think a change in the policy would result in significantly more departures.

“Everyone always seems to think that there are going to be loads of spots. There aren’t going to be loads of jobs, I don’t think you’d see that many people get snapped up,” Tindall said.

“It would be one or two, I’m not entirely sure it would be a massive exodus like everyone’s worried about. There’s not going to be that many jobs, there’s too many good French players now.”

READ MORE: Ellis Genge calls on RFU to ‘broaden horizons’ with ‘contradictory’ overseas policy