Webb unlikely to play again for Toulon because of ‘dishonest attitude’

Rhys Webb has 33 caps but last played for Wales against South Africa in December 2017

Rhys Webb may have made his final Toulon appearance after the club’s majority owner claimed a “dishonest attitude” over his move back to Wales.

The scrum-half, 31, will rejoin Ospreys next season after being released from his contract early for family reasons.

Webb is eligible for the 2020 Six Nations after gaining dispensation from a rule which has stopped him playing for Wales since joining Toulon in 2018.

But Toulon owner Bernard Lemairtre suggested that came out of the blue.

Speaking to France’s Sud Radio, Lemaitre, who took over majority ownership of Toulon from Mourad Boudjellal last month, said: “His family is back in Wales, it’s difficult for him.

“We made beach-sized amounts of time for him to go back and see them. Rhys asked us to free him from the final year of his contract and we accepted.

“All of a sudden we learn he has already signed for the Ospreys and his agent had already negotiated with the Welsh union that he can be selected. It’s a dishonest attitude.

“It takes us to a situation where I think Rhys Webb will not play in the Toulon shirt again. The adventure will be cut short.”

Webb, who is contracted to the French club until the end of the season, was not included in Toulon’s squad for Sunday’s Top 14 win against Castres. Head coach Patrice Collazo refused to answer questions about Webb after the game.

Their next match is against Scarlets in the European Challenge Cup, which could have seen Webb line-up against current Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies.

Webb would only miss one Top 14 game – Toulon’s clash with La Rochelle on 22 February – if he was selected in Wales’ Six Nations squad.

He had been ineligible for Wales since the WRU brought in a selection policy in October 2017 that meant players would not be picked if they had won fewer than 60 caps and opted to move away from Wales.

Following the announcement of his Ospreys return next season, the Professional Rugby Board (PRB), which runs the professional game in Wales, last week accepted an appeal by Webb’s management to immediately make him available again for international rugby.

Lemaitre suggested that decision could lead to Webb not playing again for Toulon.

Webb, his agent Derwyn Jones and Toulon have been contacted for a response to Lemaitre’s comments.

Jones told BBC Radio Wales on Saturday how Webb’s international exile had ended and insisted Wales eligibility was only approached when the player had secured his Ospreys move.

“As soon as Rhys agreed terms with Ospreys and we had the written release from Toulon, we appealed the decision to try and get him available for this year’s Six Nations purely because he was coming back in the summer,” said former Wales lock Jones.

“We asked the question to the PRB which is made up of the regions and the Welsh Rugby Union.

“They agreed so Rhys is available for the Six Nations which is great news and common sense.

“The first thing was that we had to get him back to Wales. He signed a contract with the Ospreys subject to getting release from Toulon.

“Toulon agreed and signed the release and we wrote to the PRB after that. So the first piece in the jigsaw was to get the Ospreys contract and Toulon release. After that we appealed the decision and they agreed.”

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