RUGBY UNION: Wales have been forced to drop Worcester tight-head prop Chris Horsman from their squad to face Australia after failing to reach an agreement with the Sixways club.
Welsh coach Gareth Jenkins had the news confirmed only hours after naming Horsman on the bench for Saturday’s match at the Millennium Stadium.
The Welsh Rugby Union had agreed a deal with Worcester that Horsman would play for Wales against Australia on Saturday and New Zealand on November 25 but return to club duty for the two weeks in between.
It was on that basis that Jenkins named Horsman, who did such damage to the Wallabies pack this time last year, in his 22-man squad.
But Premier Rugby, the English clubs’ governing body, instructed Worcester not to release Horsman because the Test falls outside the International Rugby Board’s official window. The WRU failed to persuade them otherwise.
In a statement last night, Premier Rugby said: "If a Test match is arranged outside the IRB windows it has been understood that clubs are not obliged to release players under IRB regulations.
"Premier Rugby clubs have merely conformed with this policy with respect to release of international players.
"In the specific case of Wales, Premier Rugby wrote to the WRU at the beginning of August to confirm that Premier Rugby could not release for the Australia match as it fell outside the IRB window. There is a full round of Guinness Premiership matches this weekend. The clubs understand the purpose of the IRB window is to find the right balance between the interests of all stakeholders in the world game, including club and country."
But Premier Rugby’s stance appears to suit none of the parties involved.
Wales, already short on tight-heads props, have to rejig their bench and do without arguably the country’s most powerful scrummager.
Worcester will have Horsman available for only one of their next four fixtures - at Leicester on Saturday- instead of vital matches against Northampton and Harlequins.
Horsman will return to the Wales squad for the forthcoming Tests against Canada, Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
Jenkins plans to confirm the replacement prop today but his options are limited after Gary Powell was sent off for Cardiff last weekend.
He said: "It is very disappointing. We were expecting Chris to play. It is not what you want. The group involved in this have been pro-active trying to get an agreement but it hasn’t worked.
"There is very much a political slant to this. The slant is within the English game."
WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis said: "After detailed and extremely constructive talks with Tom Walkinshaw at Premier Rugby , we have reached a point at which it is impossible for Gareth Jenkins to be able to field Chris this weekend as he had wished".