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Why the lockdown is pushing Tomas Francis closer to awkward club-versus-country decision

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(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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Tomas Francis has admitted he is already dreading the club-versus-country decision he will have to make when his current Exeter contract expires at the end of the 2020/21 season. The Wales prop avoided having to made this decision with his last contract renewal in 2019.


Because Francis enacted a clause in his then-current deal, the 60-cap rule that has forced some players outside Wales to return in order to remain eligible to pay for their country didn’t apply. With rugby now suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the forward is currently on 48 caps, twelve short of the required cut off mark. 

Amid the increasing possibility that there might not be any more Test rugby played in 2020, it would leave Francis falling short of the magic number of caps that would put an end to his eligibility concerns. “I understand the rules and I see both sides,” he said in an interview with BBC Sport Wales.

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“But it’s tough to see why I’d have to leave the club that gave me a chance (in the Premiership). I’ll have to decide when it comes, but it’s going to be a tough decision which I don’t want to have to make.”

Injured at the World Cup in Japan, Francis missed all four of Wales’ recent Six Nations matches under new boss Wayne Pivac. 

Also yet to feature for the Chiefs this season, he has hunkered down in Exeter during the layoff and had no qualms about taking the 25 per cent pay cut measure implemented at Sandy Park and elsewhere throughout the Premiership.


“You’d rather have the club still standing and have the Premiership to play in than quarrel over the 25 per cent (pay reduction). Tony (Rowe, Chiefs CEO) is a great director, the club has been profitable for the last few years so the business model works and we as players want to be part of it.”



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