Henry Arundell to get England selection exemption for Six Nations – but not New Zealand tour

Steve Borthwick congratulates Henry Arundell on his five-try performance
Steve Borthwick congratulates Henry Arundell on his five-try performance - Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Five-try winger Henry Arundell is expected to be allowed to represent England during the Six Nations despite having signed for French club Racing 92, Telegraph Sport understands.

Arundell wrote his name into the record books on Saturday by becoming just the fourth English male player to score five tries in a game in his maiden World Cup match against Chile. The 20-year-old wing is now just three tries short of equalling the overall World Cup record held by Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea, whom Arundell calls the “GOATs” (greatest of all time) of rugby union.

Whether Arundell will continue to represent England following the World Cup is open to question since signing for Racing 92 following London Irish’s descent into administration this summer. Technically those based outside England, which included four members of the matchday squad against Chile, will be ineligible to play in next year’s Six Nations according to the Rugby Football Union’s own regulations on picking players outside the Premiership.

However, Arundell is considered to fall into the loophole category of “exceptional circumstances” that was also applied to Jack Willis when he moved to Toulouse last season after Wasps also went into administration. Willis was granted a 12-month exemption from the date of Wasps’ insolvency which allowed him to play in this year’s Six Nations as well as the World Cup.

Following the World Cup, the Professional Game Board, which is made up of representatives of Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Players’ Association, will meet to determine whether to grant a similar exemption to Arundell.

Henry Arundell poses for a photograph with England fans
Arundell is popular among England fans - Dan Mullan/Getty Images

There was considerable disquiet among Premiership clubs about setting a precedent with allowing Willis to be selected in France as a host of leading players, including Marcus Smith and Maro Itoje, were suddenly linked with moves to the Top 14. Just last week, Midi Olympique reported that the quartet of Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Elliot Daly and Lewis Ludlam were attracting interest from French clubs while fly-half George Ford is a target for Racing 92.

Yet there is also sympathy towards Arundell’s circumstances with Irish going into administration in June leaving him with few options. Should he be granted the dispensation then he would be free to play in the Six Nations but not on next summer’s tour to Japan and New Zealand if he remains with Racing.

Willis, who signed a new three-year contract with Toulouse, along with Toulon-bound David Ribbans and Joe Marchant who is moving to Stade Francais would be ineligible for selection for the 2024 Six Nations. However, Willis’s contract does have a break clause at the end of each season that would enable him to move back to the Premiership.

“I love playing for England,” Willis said. “I can’t control the decisions that are made there. I love playing for Toulouse and they’ve looked after me well since I’ve been there. All I can focus on is becoming as valuable a part of this squad as possible and leaving the decision to the powers that be.”