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Rebel player leaves club over Bermuda trip

Parted company: Carter has left his Welsh club after deciding to play in the World Rugby Classic

Richard Carter has parted company with Welsh side Aberavon in controversial circumstances after opting to travel to Bermuda to play in the World Rugby Classic.

Carter, who will join the likes of Wales great Shane Williams, Ceri Sweeney, Richie Rees and Chris Wyatt in the Classic Lions squad, has left the Principality Premiership leaders just days after making his 300th appearance for the side.

In a statement posted on the club’s website, Andrew John, the managing director, explained the decision surrounding Carter’s departure.

“In response to some comments on social media on the subject I feel it’s best if I explain a few points that made us come to a decision that I take full and complete responsibility for,” John said.

“At the players’ check-in meeting before pre-season training back in the summer all of the squad were told quite clearly that as salaried employees of the club that trips other than official age group, regional, Wales sevens competitions were out of bounds during season time when players were expected to be available for selection at all times.

“A few weeks back Richard asked if he could travel to Bermuda for the Classic Lions week which would mean him missing two league games and in all probability a third by missing training on his return.

“The November games this season are all very tough important fixtures and collectively the coaches were against him travelling, with regional demands for the Anglo-Welsh Cup and squad injuries it was felt Richard would be required for all these three fixtures so the request was refused.

“At the same time a similar request for other Aberavon squad players to travel to Dubai for the sevens was also refused on the same basis. By my book there cannot be one rule for one and not another, particularly given the pre-season instruction.

“Last Friday night [before the Cross Keys game and ironically his 300th game for us] he sent Jason [Hyatt, head coach] a text stating that he intended travelling to Bermuda.”

John said the club would have given Carter, 33, their blessing to play at the Classic if it was an official representative tour.

“So last Monday night Richard and I met in my office and I told him I was unable to support his request and that if he carried out his threat then regrettably we would part company,” John added.

“He actually told me at the meeting that he would most likely withdraw from the trip and then the following morning rang me to say he had decided to travel to Bermuda.

“If this trip was an official representative tour he would have gone with our blessing but quite simply it’s not.

“Whilst we all really regret losing a player of Richard’s ability and experience especially as he’s been in great form this season as a club we cannot accept a salaried player deciding off his own bat to ignore the decision of his coaches and going off on a trip that he can venture on when he’s finished his career as a semi-pro player.

“I appreciate people will have divided opinions on this but these are the facts, plain and simple.”

Lions, the defending champions, take on Italy on Sunday’s opening day of the competition at 2.30pm at the North Field, National Sports Centre. In the later game Canada face South Africa at 4pm. The gates open at 12.30pm.

On Monday Argentina play the United States at 7pm, while France face New Zealand at 8.30pm, with gates opening at 5.30pm.

Tuesday will be a competition rest day.