x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Stop importing and grow your talent at home

Saracens and other English rugby teams must stop importing talent and start growing the homegrown boys more or the national team will suffer for it.

The "have boot, will travel" philosophy of modern-day rugby union players took an amazing twist this week when Schalk Brits signed a one-match loan deal to join his former club in South Africa.

The Saracens hooker will play for the Cape Town Stormers against the Canterbury Crusaders tomorrow in the semi-final of the Super 15. And it would benefit English rugby enormously if Brits and players of his ilk stayed in the countries of their birth. Overseas players are killing the game in England with the Aviva Premiership awash with imports.

Saracens are particularly guilty of signing foreign players with more than a dozen on their books. It is distorted thinking by the English champions.

The theory is that come the Autumn Internationals and Six Nations, when the best of British are called up by the Home Nations, their squad will be weakened far less. And there's the rub. Because key positions are being filled by players not eligible to represent England, the national side is being starved of talent. It is a selfish search for short-term success which could cause immense long-term damage.

With the Rugby World Cup starting in New Zealand in October, few, if any, of the current crop of England internationals would make it into a world 15.

That is outrageous. England's finest should be honing their skills on the pitch not warming the bench while outsiders make up the majority of the team.