Cape Town - Wales coach Warren Gatland has warned England that its rugby
could be set to go the same way as English football with its international game
suffering because of its use of overseas players at club level.
Players from around the globe were attracted to play in
England's Premiership as a result of the large amounts of money being offered.
But Gatland told The Rugby Paper allowing foreign players to
shine could ultimately be at the expense of the national side.
"You can understand people doing the best for their
clubs and competitions, but you have to look at the bigger picture. What drives
rugby globally is the international game. They're the things we need to
consider and protect," he said.
"My big fear is you want competitions to grow and
develop, but I'd hate to see the English game get like the football where there
is so much money and resources going into it that it dominates the game
globally and all the best players congregate in the competition to the
detriment of everything else."
At international level in football, England have won nothing
since the 1966 World Cup yet its Premier League is one of the great
competitions in the world.
Gatland reminded rugby's Premiership club bosses that it was
the international calendar which drove World Rugby's agenda.
"We want to grow the game. I understand things from the
point of view of the owners, Premiership Rugby Limited and the RFU.
"They want to make their competitions as strong as
possible, but it's also important to get the balance right. Make it strong, but
not to the detriment of other areas of the game," he said.
"That's why I'm saying the power brokers and people
involved in the game have to have everything represented."
Having had to coach the British & Irish Lions in New
Zealand last year while hindered by the failure to get adequate preparation
time, Gatland repeated his call for more time with players before future tours.
"People should be doing as much as possible to protect
the future of the Lions. In my opinion that has to be rugby people who see the
value of the Lions, understand it and what it means to a lot of people.
"I hope there are power brokers who consider the
importance of the Lions for the future and not just their own self-interest. It
would be a shame if that were the case," Gatland said.
Similar concerns have been expressed with the number of
foreign coaches being given leading roles with sides at the expense of home
Six of England's top 13 jobs are held by overseas coaches with
Eddie Jones the leading example with the England side, but also Pat Lam
(Bristol), Todd Blackadder (Bath), Johan Ackermann (Gloucester) and Matt