9 Nov 2012

IRB says it'll stand up against clubs over player releases

6:34 pm on 9 November 2012

The International Rugby Board says it's prepared to impose "significant sanctions" if it found examples of players being prevented from representing their country.

The global governing body says it'll be keeping a close eye on the issue during this month's international matches in Europe in the wake of former Racing Metro backs coach Simon Mannix's allegations that the French club paid players to not be available for the Fiji World Cup squad.

The French Rugby Union has confirmed it has officially complained to Racing Metro over Jone Qovu's unavailability for Fiji's current European tour. Qovu refused selection claiming to be injured, but later played a club match.

IRB regulations forbid clubs from offering disincentives, either through "contract or conduct", to players to represent their country but critics insist officials have not done enough to enforce the rule.

But in a statement issued from its Dublin headquarters, ahead of an opening weekend of November Tests including England's match with Fiji at Twickenham, the IRB says it will act on breaches of regulation nine.