Rugby’s foreign legion in Europe has IRB chief worried

Outgoing International Rugby Board (IRB) chairperson Syd Millar believes foreign invasions will have a damaging effect on European domestic rugby.

Several World Cup stars — including All Blacks Chris Jack, Aaron Mauger, Carl Hayman and Luke McAlister, plus Springbok flyhalf Butch James — have arrived in the Premiership.

Meanwhile, the Celtic League has seen New Zealand wing Doug Howlett joining Munster and former All Blacks flanker Marty Holah linking up with the Ospreys.

Millar, who steps down from his IRB post to be succeeded by Bernard Lapasset early next year, has concerns about long-term effects.

”For us, it is not very good to have all these foreign players in Europe,” he told BBC Sport.

”How are we going to develop our own players? We are denying opportunities to British players.”

And Millar is also worried about the effects of losing so many leading players might have on a country like New Zealand.

”We’ve had New Zealanders coming in after the World Cup. That will decimate those strong countries. Clubs [in Europe] should really be developing players.

”We’ve got to be very careful that we don’t upset the balance so they are no longer major countries, competing at the top.

”The guys would rather be at home, but the money is in Europe. There is a huge attraction in coming to Europe — they don’t have to travel, they get well paid and have already claimed their All Black jersey. — Sapa-AFP

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