New Western Force signing Jono Lance has taken to social media to outline his disappointment that UK employment law red tape foiled his agreed move from Worcester Warriors to Edinburgh. The Guinness PRO14 club announced the Australian’s signing on May 1, but the 29-year-old has not secured a work permit.

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“The club wishes Jono all the best in his future ambitions and thank him for his professionalism during this period of uncertainty regarding his signing with the club,” read a June 11 Edinburgh statement about the collapse of the Lance deal.

A Super Rugby winner with both the Reds and the Waratahs, Edinburgh had hoped the wealth of experience Lance had at the top level would be invaluable for Richard Cockerill’s team.

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The out-half has now re-emerged as a Western Force signing ahead of the new domestic rugby competition in Australia and he is returning there with unfinished business as he was at the club when it was axed from Super Rugby. 

Lance, who arrived back in Perth last Friday, is currently serving his two-week quarantine period at the house of his girlfriend’s mum and has used the lay-off to clarify what happened back in the UK. “Disappointed to not be able to experience Edinburgh and the Champions Cup,” he wrote in a Twitter thread.

“My discussions with director and management had me anticipating playing exciting rugby in all competitions. Edinburgh is in good hands.

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“Unfortunately the black and white nature of visa regulation, combined with being at a club (Worcester) that I felt prioritised meeting an English player quota, resulted in me not meeting the required threshold of games played, a visa rule I was uninformed about.

“This was worsened by the cancellation of half the season and has cost me the opportunity to play at a team who included me as part of its future ambitions.

“As disappointing as it is, I am fortunate that when one door closes many more can open in this global game of rugby. Good luck to Edinburgh in the future and one day I’ll get to try that haggis in town.” 

In order to secure a visa extension in the UK, Lance needed to have played at least 75 per cent of Worcester’s matches during his time at the Premiership club which didn’t happen. He made nine appearances in 2018/19 and twelve in 2019/20.

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Lance’s switch to England had been a sort of homecoming for the Aussie. It was 1999 when he arrived in Yorkshire and spent two years there while his father Dean coached Super League’s Leeds Rhinos. Joining Worcester meant he was back retracing his steps, even if he was doing so in a different rugby code. 

“I lived in England when I was young when my dad coached the rugby league team in Leeds,” he told RugbyPass last year. “It was when I was nine until I was eleven. I remember going to the smaller stadiums with the atmosphere and the drums and the trumpets. That definitely made a lasting impression.

“As well as that, the shorter bus rides to and from games is a bit different to flying at least three and up to twelve hours to get to an away game. That is exciting, but also the pressure that comes with the relegation/promotion side of English sport is something that is a drawcard.”

 

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