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Breaking overseas rule would be 'really tough' on camp

It would have been "really tough" on England's dressing room if Stuart Lancaster selected overseas players in his World Cup squad, according to Billy Vunipola.

Vunipola is pleased the overseas rule has been upheld. Credit: PA

The overseas rule was created to prevent England's best players accepting lucrative contracts with clubs in France and the southern hemisphere at English rugby's potential expense.

It means Toulon's 2014 European Player of Year, Steffon Armitage, can only be selected to play at this year's World Cup under "exceptional circumstances" such as an injury crisis.

Saracens forward Vunipola, who was named in Lancaster's squad yesterday after an impressive campaign for club and country, said:

It would have been really tough on the dressing room, especially because the position he [Steffon Armitage] plays in is our captain's position.

It would have been like going back on your word because you're saying one thing and doing another. By sticking to your word it gives players that sense of trust.

– England and Saracens forward Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola was shortlisted for Green Flag Forward of the Season at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards. Follow @GreenFlagUK or visit to keep up to date with the breakdown cover provider.


Murray calls time on Scotland career

Murray won 66 caps for Scotland. Credit: PA

Record-breaking Scotland prop Euan Murray has announced he is retiring from the international game.

The 34-year-old Glasgow Warrior has appeared 66 times for his country - more than any other tighthead prop - but just four months before the start of this year's World Cup has decided to call it a day.

Murray - who made his Dark Blues bow against Romania in Bucharest back in 2005 - said: "I am extremely proud and grateful to have represented the people of Scotland at rugby for so long."

The 2009 British and Irish Lion's retirement will give Scotland head coach Vern Cotter a major headache as tries to rally his troops after this year's miserable RBS 6 Nations campaign, but that did not stop the Kiwi paying tribute to Murray.

He said: "At his best Euan was a world-class tighthead prop. On behalf of the team and management, I wish Euan and his family all the very best."

Owen Farrell agrees new long term Saracens deal

Farrell has signed on the dotted line. Credit: PA

Saracens have announced that England international fly-half Owen Farrell has signed a "long-term contract extension" with the Premiership club.

Farrell, 23, has clocked up more than 100 appearances for Saracens since making his first team debut in 2008.

Farrell made his comeback from a knee injury in last Saturday's European Champions Cup semi-final clash against Clermont Auvergne. He had been sidelined since January.


England quartet up for Six Nations award

Joseph was one of England's stand-out performers. Credit: PA

England have the biggest representation on a 12-strong shortlist announced by tournament organisers for this season's RBS 6 Nations player of the tournament.

Centre Jonathan Joseph, fly-half George Ford, scrum-half Ben Youngs and number eight Billy Vunipola all feature among the group.

England, despite beating France 55-35 two days ago, were pipped to the title by Ireland, with Wales finishing third.

Three Ireland players make the list - captain Paul O'Connell, centre Robbie Henshaw and scrum-half Conor Murray - together with Welshmen Alun-Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar, Scots Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray, and Italy captain Sergio Parisse.

Surprise omissions, though, include Wales captain Sam Warburton and his team-mate Leigh Halfpenny, plus France wing Yoann Huget.

Throughout the tournament, players were awarded (or deducted) points based on statistical performance across different categories.

Monye to retire at the end of the season

Ugo Monye will hang up his boots. Credit: PA

Harlequins' former England wing Ugo Monye will retire from rugby at the end of this season.

Monye's decision, announced on the official Harlequins website, will end a 13-year playing career at the Twickenham Stoop.

The 31-year-old won 14 England caps between 2008 and 2012, and he also played in two Tests for the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa, scoring a try during the third Test victory in Johannesburg.

"It is a decision that I have been thinking about for a long time, and one that I haven't taken lightly," Monye said.

"I have had an unbelievable 13 years at Quins, and look back on my career with no regrets.

"I can honestly say that the one thing I am most proud of is that I have been a one-club man in a game that is ever-changing, and I am excited to be staying on at the club after my retirement in a different capacity."

Rugby player fined for homophobic comments

Jacques Potgieter has been fined. Credit: PA

South Africa international Jacques Potgieter has been fined for making homophobic comments during a Super Rugby game in Australia.

The Australian Rugby Union announced they had imposed a 20,000 Australian dollars (£10,450) fine, with 10,000 dollars suspended, on flanker Potgieter following an incident in Sunday's clash between the Waratahs and Brumbies in Sydney.

The ARU said that Waratahs forward Potgieter admitted making comments "contrary to the Australian Rugby Union's inclusion policy", which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in rugby.

Potgieter's penalty relates to a breach of the ARU code of conduct, which prohibits homophobic or racist comments.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said: "We take the issue of homophobia in sport seriously and want to provide a positive environment for everyone involved in rugby. Comments of this nature cannot be tolerated."

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