Bok hands tied on Butch saga
Cardiff - Bath flyhalf Butch James has been formally withdrawn from the Springbok team to play Wales at the Millennium on Saturday, on the insistence of Premier Rugby.
According to the Telegraph website, Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for England's Premiership clubs, has a blanket policy of not releasing players for Tests not governed by the IRB's regulation on player release.
Saturday's game is a fully sanctioned Test match but falls outside the recognised IRB international June window, which only obliges clubs to release players for international duty for the last three weekends of the month.
Bath, who were more than happy for James to play, have been forced to follow Premier Rugby's directive by informing James he must return to the club.
James, who has not played Test rugby since 2008, now misses his chance to stake an early claim for Rugby World Cup recognition next year.
As a result of Premier Rugby's decision, the Springbok management will be forced to revise their starting XV for the Wales Test. The revised team is expected be announced on Wednesday afternoon. .
Bulls duo, fullback Zane Kirchner and lock Victor Matfield, will join the Springboks squad on Thursday as replacements for James and Stormers lock Andries Bekker respectively.
Munster's Jean de Villiers, originally named the Bok squad, has already been forced to withdraw. His place was taken by Stormers centre Jaque Fourie.
The full Premier Rugby statement reads:
The situation on release of international players for the June window is clear under IRB Regulation 9.
The release of players is required for matches on the second, third and fourth weekends of June and for five clear training days in advance. This release is intended for matches being played in the Southern Hemisphere.
The first weekend in June is not part of the IRB release period and Unions have no right to release of players from the Clubs.
In the interests of Player Welfare, which the IRB Woking Accord made the top priority, this first weekend was intended under the Regulation to be a period of travel for the Players so they would be in best condition for the June tests in the Southern Hemisphere.
This now appears to be compromised by international matches being arranged in the Northern Hemisphere for apparently commercial reasons.