MX23RW : Tuesday, January 22 23:55:21

Lawrence Dallaglio backs England overseas rule

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio backs the rule that prevents overseas-based players from representing Stuart Lancaster's side.

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has backed the rule that prevents overseas-based players from being selected for the national team.

Toulon's Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon of Clermont Auvergne have won the last two European Player of the Year awards, but are ineligible to turn out for their country apart from in "exceptional circumstances" due to playing their club rugby in France.

Calls for the rule to be abolished have grown as a result, but Dallaglio believes that the players in question would have stayed in England if they were good enough, or driven enough, to play for the Red Rose.

"I truly believe the best rugby players in this country should play in the country. The rules are very simple, they're very clear. I think they're the right rules and I don't think they should be broken," the 2003 World Cup-winner is quoted as saying by PA Sport.

"I don't honestly believe the best place for an English international rugby player is down in the south of France. I really don't. The players who went there went there because they weren't good enough to get in the England team. They are now playing at a level of rugby that is perhaps good enough - that depends what side you sit on.

"I am sure if [Armitage] went to the owner of Toulon and said 'look, I am really passionate about playing for England, would you mind if you release me from my contract as I would like to join Bath, Northampton, Wasps, Harlequins or any of those clubs?' I am sure he would do that because he is a man who is driven by passion, whether for his club or his country."

Dallaglio's former teammate Martin Johnson also put his weight behind the existing rule, suggesting that if players really wanted to play for their country then they would switch clubs.

Stuart Lancaster is due to name his 45-man training squad for this year's World Cup on May 20.


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Former England and Leicester Tigers player Martin Johnson looks on after the Aviva Premiership match between Leicester Tigers and London Welsh at Welford Road on February 9, 2013
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