Rugby Union


Wales send out a message by dropping three players just a week after naming squad

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When Wales head to Washington DC to play South Africa in just over a fortnight's time, they will do so without Josh Adams, Luke Charteris and Tomas Francis.

The trio had all been expected to make the trip but have instead been sent packing with a message that Warren Gatland's Dragons are in no way ready to compromise on their principles.

Adams, in particular, is a big loss, having scored 13 tries this season for the Worcester Warriors.

Where one door has closed, another has opened for Ashton Hewitt, Aaron Wainwright and Rhodri Jones, who will come into the squad to replace the three players.

As per the Telegraph, a dispute has arisen because Premiership Rugby have refused to release Adams, Charteris, and Francis since Wales' summer tour begins outside of the official international window - they will play the Springboks on June 2, a week earlier than would normally be expected.

Given their respective contracts, Premiership Rugby are well within their rights, but the WRU have long made clear their stance on players plying their trade outside of their native land. Those who opt for more lucrative contracts in France and England are doing so knowing full well the risks.

Of course, there is the perfectly valid question of why Gatland included the trio in the first place. WalesOnline report that there had been "positive discussions" with the Premiership and it was hoped that an agreement would be reached surrounding their release.

Once that was proved not to be the case, it's easy to see why Wales have come to the decision they have.

Wales v Scotland - NatWest Six Nations

Indeed, George North can count himself lucky that he has avoided being dropped ahead of his acrimonious departure from Northampton. That's because the Saints are looking at releasing him early, given that he is certain to leave at the end of the season anyway.

Ross Moriarty is in a similar situation as the 24-year-old flanker is getting ready to leave Gloucester.


“We are really disappointed that Josh, Tomas and Luke have to miss out on the opportunity to tour with Wales and play international rugby this summer,” he said in Wales' statement.

“It was a great opportunity for them to play for their country, press their claim in an important year and it is a shame [that] supporters will not get to see them in the red of Wales.

“The situation is very clear for players playing in England going forward and heading into a Rugby World Cup year.

“With players unavailable to link up with the squad until the week of our second Test match, we have had to replace them in the squad.”

While it would have been much easier if Premiership Rugby had been more amenable, Wales have sent out a clear message once again that those playing in England aren't going to be prioritised.

What do you make of Gatland's statement? Have your say in the comments. 

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