Scotland take on Fiji at Murrayfield tomorrow in Andy Robinson’s first game in charge as national coach, although the visitors will be without several first choice players.
The club versus country row, synonymous with football, has reared its head within the oval game, with clubs refusing to release their Fijian internationals for the game.
Several British and Irish based players are unavailable for Fiji. Isa Nacewa of Leinster and Saracens’ Kameli Ratuvou have not travelled to Edinburgh, whilst Ulster winger Timoci Nagusa remains in Fiji on holiday with his pregnant wife.
Other less established squad members have remained in New Zealand due to NPC Cup commitments. Ulster and Leisnter would not comment on why the players were not being released.
With international football matches taking place across the globe this weekend, conflict between clubs and national associations was bound to be an issue, although it is an argument that is perhaps not often associated with rugby.
The International Rugby Board introduced new regulations on player availability at the beginning of this year.
The designated global release periods include the November international period, which applies to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
Fiji coach Glen Ella believes the regulations are not being applied across the board. He told the Scotsman: “All Test rugby nations should be treated equally and you can see the lower-level nations are not and it’s just not good enough.
“We have a regulation in IRB law and it’s still not being enforced. We understand the clubs pay their wages, but we’re only asking for three weeks a year.”
The absence of several of Fiji’s top players could be seen as a boost for Scotland, although Neil Hunter from the Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters would rather see a full strength Fijian line-up.
He said: “If anything I’m sympathetic to Fiji. Having done so well at the last World Cup and to battle their way up the rankings above Scotland, it’s a problem that they now can’t field their best players, and its a problem the IRB has to deal with.”