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England's Marler calls for changes to RFU rule and offers alternative

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Ian Kington/AFP via Getty Images)

England loosehead prop Joe Marler has called for the RFU to “lift” the current policy of not selecting any players that are based abroad.

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The 93-cap England international took to X on Tuesday to voice his opinion shortly after RFU chief Bill Sweeney confirmed that England will not budge on the current policy.

“Lift the bloody oversees ban!” the 33-year-old wrote online, before suggesting the RFU implement a minimum cap rule to allow established England internationals to play outside of the Gallagher Premiership. Such a rule would likely allow the 112-cap Owen Farrell and the 60-cap Manu Tuilagi, both set to move to the Top 14 at the end of the season, to continue to be selected by Steve Borthwick in the future.

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This opinion has been well received online, with the majority of comments being in favour of scrapping the current policy, although there are some that have posited that allowing English players to move abroad could have catastrophic effects on the Premiership as a product.

Indeed, even the minimum cap rule that Marler is proposing is not wholly supported by nations that have adopted it. Wales hooker Dewi Lake recently questioned the 25-cap threshold that they have in place. It goes to show that the majority of systems that unions use will inevitably have negative ramifications and critics.

Sweeney’s reasoning for keeping the current policy is that there is a “performance advantage to having those players based in your own country”. He used the All Blacks, Ireland and France – three of the top four teams in the world – as teams that have the same approach, while conceding that the world champions South Africa are the “obvious outlier”.

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The RFU has faced plenty of criticism before over this policy, but seldom from a current England international. Marler played in all five matches of England’s Guinness Six Nations campaign this year and seems very much part of Borthwick’s plans currently.

While comments like these will not be what the RFU want to see, it is unlikely Marler’s chances of being selected will be hampered. It does provide an insight into what the current squad may feel about the rule though.

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