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England's loss is Celtic gain


England haemorrhage players as Irish, Welsh and Scottish exiles programs thrive

Two names have caught the eye in the international squads selected so far this weekend, with Jonah Holmes and Sam Skinner joining up for the first time with Wales and Scotland respectively.

Both former England U20 representatives, Holmes and Skinner are just the latest in a growing line of players identified by the exiles programs that the Irish, Scottish and Welsh unions have put in place.

With England’s sizeable player pool and close links to the three countries, there are a bevvy of players eligible for the Celtic nations who may not get the opportunity to play for England due to competition for spots, so those nations have been proactive in adding to their more limited player pools.

There are likely to be more names joining the list, too, with both Mike Haley and Will Addison having traded in life at Sale for moves to Irish provinces in the summer and both have eyes on a green jersey in the coming months.

We take a look at the recent cross-border poaches that illustrate the impressive work that those exiles programs are doing.

Mike Haley


Kieran Treadwell, Ulster

Kieran Marmion, Connacht

Ireland have been more discerning with their selections, partly due to the fact they have a strong player pool in place already and partly due to the fact they need to bring players over to one of the provinces before they are able to cap them.

Haley and Addison should soon be added to this list, whilst the likes of Billy Burns, Sam Arnold, James Mitchell, Joe Maksymiw and Ciaran Parker could join them in the future.


Adam Hastings*, Glasgow Warriors

James Lang, Harlequins

Chris Harris, Newcastle Falcons

Darryl Marfo, Edinburgh

Ali Price, Glasgow Warriors

Huw Jones*, Glasgow Warriors

Kieran Low, unattached

Duncan Taylor, Saracens

Greig Tonks, London Irish

Ryan Wilson, Glasgow Warriors

Tom Heathcote*, unattached

Henry Pyrgos, Edinburgh

*Hastings, Jones and Heathcote were all born in Scotland but moved to England for school, with all three coming through the Bath academy. Jones and Heathcote moved to England as young children

With just two professional teams, Scotland have been a lot more aggressive than Ireland in terms of identifying talent in England that is eligible to represent them. In addition to the English players they have identified, the likes of Luke Hamilton, Byron McGuigan and Tim Visser have also been targeted in recent years.

Adam Hastings of Glasgow Warriors during the Guinness Pro14 match between Isuzu Southern Kings and Glasgow Warriors at Nelson Mandela Bay University. (Photo by Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Tomas Francis, Exeter Chiefs

Ross Moriarty, Dragons

Jake Ball, Scarlets

If Holmes makes his debut next month, he’ll add his name to a list of three players who have made a significant impact in Welsh rugby in recent years.

Although it may frustrate Gallagher Premiership clubs and their attempts to meet English-qualified player quotas, as long as these exiles programs continue to deliver quality players for their nations, don’t expect them to go anywhere anytime soon, especially with the likes of Johnny Williams, Cam Redpath and Sam Moore still be fought over.

Watch: Warren Gatland talks about his Wales squad for the autumn internationals, including the new addition Jonah Holmes.

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England haemorrhage players as Irish, Welsh and Scottish exiles programs thrive