Ospreys Signing Adds Spice to Debate over Regions' Foreign Policy

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 26, 2004 | Go to article overview

Ospreys Signing Adds Spice to Debate over Regions' Foreign Policy


Byline: By ANDY HOWELL Western Mail

Former dual-code star Allan Bateman has attacked the growing foreign legion in Welsh rugby. Ex-Wales centre Bateman spoke out as the Ospreys signed New Zealander Jason Spice in the midst of domestic turmoil with home-grown players losing contracts due to the demise of the Celtic Warriors.

'It is daft and awful,' said Bateman after The Western Mail revealed the Ospreys had recruited the Hurricanes Super 12 scrum-half on a two-year deal.

'If it was top international- class players being recruited, fair enough,' he said. 'But it seems to me players that are being recruited are no better than Welsh players. They are taking the places of Welsh lads and I think that is wrong.

'I thought the whole idea of going to regions was to cut out the number of foreigners and concentrate on Welsh talent. What's happening can only be described as rubbish.'

Spice's imminent arrival has put a question mark over Andy Williams' position as first-choice No 9 at the Ospreys.

Williams did not miss a match last season and is in the Wales squad for next month's tour of Argentina and South Africa.

'What is going to happen to the foreign players now we are down to four regions?' inquired Bateman. 'Are they going to be told they are not wanted any longer?'

Bateman, 39, who intends to continue with First Division runners-up Maesteg next season, expressed his shock and anger at the impending closure of the Warriors.

'I am dumbfounded by what has happened,' he said.

'The Warriors did really well in their first season and they certainly deserve to be the team in their area. …

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