Negotiations between the Six Nations and England’s Premier Rugby Limited to release key Scottish players for next week’s rescheduled game against France continued without resolution yesterday.
Financial compensation for releases outwith World Rugby’s Regulation 9 – which determines international weekends when players must be released by their clubs – is the sticking point. Reports yesterday suggested one offer from the Six Nations has already been turned down.
The game has been rescheduled by the Six Nations for Paris next Friday, March 26. If no agreement is reached Scotland stand to lose key players like captain Stuart Hogg and locks Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner (all Exeter Chiefs), Gloucester’s Chris Harris and Alex Craig, and Harlequins pair Scott Steele and James Lang.
Worcester Warriors indicated on Twitter yesterday that they would release reserve back row forward Cornell Du Preez subject to the same compensation package paid by England Rugby outwith Regulation 9 weeks.
Reports from French news agencies last night suggested that Finn Russell would be released by club Racing 92 to play in the game. Ligue National Rugby, the umbrella organisation for France’s Top14 clubs, has already agreed to release French players to Fabien Galthie’s squad for the game.
Hogg said yesterday that as the matter was out of his control, he would decline to answer questions on it.
“For me, we just have to let the powers that be make the decisions,” he said. “All I’m concentrating on is the 24 hours before playing against the Italians.
“I can’t look too far ahead. It’s a decision that’s outwith my hands, so therefore it’s pointless for me to speak about it.
“The first time we’ve concentrated on it is thirty seconds ago when you asked me the question. My sole focus is making sure I can do my job tomorrow for the Scotland boys and making sure we get a good one.”
Assistant coach Pieter De Villiers said there had been no indication to the camp whether the impasse was likely to be breached before the English-based players have to leave Scotland camp on Sunday morning.
The France game was originally scheduled to be played on February 28, but postponed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the French camp involving back room staff including head coach Galthie and 11 players.