Saints release North statement

Saints have issued a statement to make it clear they have not contravened any laws, rules or regulations by allowing George North to play for Wales this weekend.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 27th November 2013, 10:03 am
George North
George North

Reports have suggested the club will be hit with a fine by Premiership Rugby for releasing the player outside of the international window.

North has a clause in his contract that allows him to be released for all Test matches and training camps.

However, Premiership Rugby’s policy, which has been agreed by the 12 clubs, states that no non-England qualified players should be released for those camps or matches.

But Northampton do not feel there has been any wrongdoing and are keen to stress the importance of having someone of North’s calibre in the English top flight.

“George is a world class player who in his short time at Franklin’s Gardens has brought a great deal of excitement and quality, not just to the Saints but to the Aviva Premiership as a competition,” said the statement.

“When his signing was announced it was hailed in the media and by the league’s hierarchy as a massive statement of intent by the club and a reflection of the competitive nature and high profile offered by the Aviva Premiership.

“Every player asks for specific conditions to be included in their agreements. This is not unusual in professional sport. In order to realise this rare opportunity of bringing a player like George to Franklin’s Gardens we agreed to allow him to represent Wales if and when selected.

“The Saints management wants to make it clear that our agreement with George has not contravened any laws, rules or regulations. However when it was finalised the agreement included terms for his release to play international rugby which were outside Premiership Rugby board policy.

“George is a young man who is proud to represent his country. Indeed the club’s management wants every player at the club to achieve the highest level they can, and wants every player to have the ambition to wear their respective national shirt.

“The club is also committed to adding depth to the playing squad, and working with someone of George’s calibre has benefitted young, home-grown players like Jamie Elliott, Tom Collins and Howard Packman, all of whom have played first team rugby this season.

“The Saints management has sought to build a squad that can compete in every tournament. This involves both establishing a strong production line of local talent and bringing in world class players when they become available. Sometimes this requires compromise, and while we appreciate that we are outside Premiership Rugby board policy with this particular agreement we also believe that having George as a Northampton Saints player has benefitted both the club and the league as a whole.”