James pulled from Wales Test
June 2, 2010
Butch James has been forced out of South Africa's starting line-up © Getty Images
Butch James has been formally withdrawn from the South Africa side to play Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and will return to his club side, Bath.
James, who was due to start at inside-centre for the Springboks in Cardiff, was ordered to return to his club by Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for Guinness Premiership clubs, amid fresh wrangling over the IRB's June Test window.
Premier Rugby earlier blocked the release of four Scotland players, Gloucester's Rory Lawson, Alasdair Strokosch, Alasdair Dickinson and Scott Lawson, for their non-cap victory against a Japan XV at Murrayfield on Tuesday, leading Andy Robinson to call for a review of player release under the IRB's regulation nine.
The ruling will be a bitter blow for James, who has not played Test rugby since 2008 and is keen to state his claim for a place in the Springboks' 2011 World Cup squad. Coach Peter De Villiers will announce his revised side on Wednesday afternoon, with the Bulls' Zane Kirchner having joined the squad as cover.
Bath chief executive Nick Blofeld was apologetic, saying that the club had not received a letter from the South African Rugby Union requesting James' release.
"The first weekend in June is designated for rest and travel and not for matches, this is based primarily upon player welfare needs, to enable them to recuperate after the end of the season and before the summer internationals which take place on the three subsequent weekends in June," he said.
"It is very unfortunate for Butch, who is very keen to play for his country again, and we are fully supportive of this, but it does need to be within the internationally agreed parameters. We hope that he will get his chance next weekend and have explained the situation fully to him and apologised for the inconvenience and disappointment he has suffered."
Lock Andries Bekker has also been ruled out with a foot injury picked up in last weekend's Super 14 final, with the experienced Victor Matfield called up to the squad.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament