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English Rugby
PRA seek legal advice over RFU letter
Scrum.com
March 18, 2009
Damian Hopley, Chief Executive of the Professional Rugby Players Association at his office, Twickenham, England, February 15, 2007
PRA chief Damian Hopley has sought legal advice after an RFU letter advised players against moving abroad © Getty Images
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The Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA) sought legal advice after RFU boss Francis Baron sent a letter to England players detailing the fact that a move abroad may jeopardise their international careers. The PRA was advised however that players would struggle to put a legal case froward for restriction of trade.

The letter was sent in the wake of the news that Wasps trio James Haskell, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer will all leave the Premiership club for lucrative deals with French Top 14 sides at the end of the season.

"As a precautionary measure we consulted a legal expert and there were no major issues raised concerning the letter from the RFU," PRA chief Damian Hopley told The Evening Standard. "The advice was that a player would struggle to win any case claiming it was a restrictive action."

The letter stated that places may be jeopardised should players move abroad and fail to seek release clauses to allow them to attend England training sessions.

"On one hand the RFU says it's fine for players to go to France, on the other that it would not be as attractive," Hopley told BBC Sport on Wednesday. "You have to remember that it's not just a financial decision for players to go, but also about lifestyle and experience. We were proactive in seeking legal advice once we found out about the letter."

According to reports Haskell is reconsidering his contract with Stade Francais after learning of the threat to his England place. He has already signed a pre-contract agreement and would therefore be liable to compensate Stade should he decide to stay in England.

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