31/10/16 Oriam - Edinburgh Greig Laidlaw with Scotland Rugby Team training in Oriam training centre for first time Photo credit should read: © Craig Watson Craig Watson, 07479748060

THE Scottish Rugby Union have issued a strongly worded statement condemning Premier Rugby Limited (PRL) – the umbrella organisation which represents the club’s in England’s top division – for the way it has handled a dispute over an injury compensation bill, which is understood to relate to former Scotland prop Euan Murray during his time at Worcester Warriors between 2012 and 2014.

It seems the SRU believe that Murray arrived at a Scotland camp with a pre-existing condition and reject the club’s claim that it worsened as a consequence of his involvement with the national team.

PRL claimed until late on Saturday evening that it would not allow the five English based players in the Scotland squad for the upcoming Autumn Test series against Australia, Argentina and Georgia to be released for this week’s training camp in Edinburgh. It eventually relented, but insisted that the dispute remains outstanding.

“Premiership Rugby has been informed that World Rugby will convene a regulations committee panel to settle the case and on that basis we are prepared to show flexibility and allow for our players to join the Scotland squad. A similar dispute with Italian, Samoan and Tongan Unions was settled earlier in the week,” said a PRL spokesman.

In response, the SRU has stated –

 Scottish Rugby has welcomed its England based players back into Scotland camp ahead of the Autumn Internationals this weekend.

It is disappointed in the stance taken by PRL to use a single historic player case as negotiation around player release through Regulation 9 ahead of the Autumn Tests.

The outstanding medical case cited by PRL – relating to one player dating from 2013 – has no connection to any Scottish International currently playing in the Aviva Premiership so the decision by PRL to threaten the release of current England-based players in this context was both unhelpful and inappropriate.

Regulation 9 is being enforced by World Rugby to ensure that players are made available.

A Scottish Rugby spokesman said: “We usually have a good working relationship with PRL and so this tactic by them was both surprising and unnecessary.

“The case in dispute is historical. We have repeatedly offered to have an independent medical panel review the specifics of this case, but this has not been followed up by PRL and its Club.

“As a Union we take our responsibilities for player welfare seriously and have respected the necessary processes throughout.”

Scottish Rugby is happy to clarify the following context.

–          The Scottish player case raised by PRL is historic and relates to an unresolved medical assessment of the injury status of a player no longer involved in the Scotland squad.

–          After his Premiership Club disputed the medical assessment Scottish Rugby offered on two occasions to resolve the matter through an independent medical arbitration process, and both times this offer was not followed up.

–          Scottish Rugby has not withheld fees or insurance payments and the costs under dispute are in the tens of thousands, not the six figures quoted by PRL. If an independent arbitration rules that a payment is due, then Scottish Rugby will honour that ruling.

Player welfare is central to Scottish Rugby’s operations. We have some of the most experienced and respected medical staff in the sport working with our home-based and national team players. We have an outstanding medical record.

Squad captain Greig Laidlaw, who was one of the players caught up in this unseemly spat,  has insisted that he was pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

“I was always confident it was going to be sorted. Gav Scott, the team manager up here, was in constant contact with me; and to be fair to Gloucester and David Humphreys [the club’s director of rugby], they were very open and talked to me pretty much every day about what was happening – so it was a pretty easy one for me, there was no stress around about it,” he said.

“It’s good to be here. International rugby is such a crucial point of the game throughout the world so I don’t think anyone really wanted to be holding players back. We’re just glad that everyone has been released and we can get on with playing rugby now,” he added.

About David Barnes 4028 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.