Thursday, 29 November 2007

Will overseas players damage English Rugby......

I smile wryly when I hear or read of the 'Too many foreigners' debate going on in English football to justify the pitiful performances of our vastly overpaid national side. Cricket has experienced many years of this since the arrival of such stars as Barry Richards, Gary Sobers and Viv Richards. Key positions were occupied by overseas super stars and the England cricket team suffered accordingly.

Now football is going through the same situation. The best goalkeepers and strikers in the Premiership are foreigners. Where once they would have been English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish now they are Spanish, Dutch, French or from Cameroon.

Rugby, as a professional sport, is still in its infancy but already we have seen an influx of overseas players and, after the 2007 World Cup, a large number more have arrived in the Guinness Premiership which means that they will be taking the place of a home bred player. Rugby writers employed by News International are praising the advent of the foreign superstars, most likely to boost audience figures for rugby shown on Sky and please Rupert Murdoch, but are they right to?

Are we seeing the thin end of the wedge? The Rugby Football Union can do nothing about overseas players plying their craft in England because of EC regulations so it is conceivable that many more will be coming thus mirroring both cricket and football. 

With England having appeared in the last two world cup finals, albeit this year's producing shock waves throughout the rugby community as an aging and one dimensional side defied the odds, it is to be fervently hoped that they do not have to wait the same length of  to repeat a World Cup victory as their footballing compatriots or a series win in Australia as the national cricket team.

Only time will tell but the more overseas players that pull on an English club jersey the less likely it is that the 2003 national triumph will be repeated.

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