James Anderson has played four matches in the County Championship for his native county this summer, not a lot, admittedly, but twice as many as Alun Wyn Jones made for his native region in the PRO14 last winter.
The facts provide a stark example of the growing disconnect of those centrally-contracted Test players from the arenas where they learnt their trade. While English cricket has learnt to live with it, Welsh rugby continues to suffer from the all-consuming demands of the national team.
The on-going plight of the country’s regional quartet prompted no less a figure than Sean Fitzpatrick to highlight an issue which has bedevilled the European game in general and Wales in particular. As the All Blacks’ finest hooker of all time said: “We need our international players playing more club rugby.’’
Eminent figures of just about every political hue have been saying precisely that for years. A classic example springs to mind from 2006 when Munster played successive matches in Cardiff at the start and end of that summer.
They made history from the first, beating Biarritz in the European Cup final. They turned the next visit into a non-event, rendering their first appearance as champions of Europe a box-office flop by resting their entire international pack from a Magners League match against Cardiff at the Arms Park.
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