Nick Abendanon: England should pick overseas players

Nick Abendanon
Abendanon topped four attack categories in the Champions Cup

Clermont full-back Nick Abendanon says the Rugby Football Union should allow players working for clubs outside England to represent the national team.

Abendanon has won the European Player of the Year award, the third time a French-based English player has won it.

Yet since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, an RFU rule has said only those involved in domestic rugby can play for England.

"Having that rule in place restricts players from playing at the top level," said 28-year-old Abendanon.

"You're playing with the best players in the world and coming here has made me a better player and better person.

Club v country
In 2010 the RFU decided they would not pick overseas players, in an attempt to protect the strength of the Premiership in England.
Australia have had a similar selection policy, but changed their rules last month to make those players who have made 60 international appearances eligible.
Manager Stuart Lancaster can use an 'exceptional circumstances' clause to call-up overseas players
World Rugby says "such policies are at the discretion of the unions"

"I know exactly why the RFU has that policy in place and I don't expect it to change - but I have changed my mind on it since moving out here."

Abendanon played two matches for England in 2007 but last summer he moved from Bath to Clermont, scoring a fine solo try in the 24-18 loss to Toulon. in the final of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Toulon's Steffon Armitage and Jonny Wilkinson, now retired, won the European Player of the Year award, in 2014 and 2013 respectively.

Steffon Armitage
Steffon Armitage has only five caps for England

After winning the award, Abendanon told BBC Radio 5 live he "would encourage more people to move" to France.

Abendanon has said "it would be a dream come true" to represent England in the 2015 World Cup, but England head coach Stuart Lancaster has only picked domestic-based players.

"I played for 10 years in England and came out to France because I thought my international career was over," added Abendanon. "I'm sure Steffon felt the same.

"Playing in France has rejuvenated our games and whether we get rewarded for that is up to Stuart."