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Cup finalists to miss England tour

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England head coach Brian Ashton has confirmed that no England players involved in the finals of the Heineken Cup Final and European Challenge Cup will be involved in either of England's two Tests of their summer tour to South Africa.

The 32-man England squad will be announced next Tuesday ahead of Tests against the Springboks on May 26 in Bloemfontein and June 2 in Pretoria.

But Ashton, in confirming that players from Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and Bath Rugby will not be included, said: "I've reached the decision based on three principles. First, the players will not have time to prepare and acclimatise for the first Test match. Second, after their massive efforts spent in reaching the Heineken and European Challenge Cup finals, it gives this group of players the opportunity to recharge their batteries before meeting up again for the World Cup warm-up camps, which start on June 25.

"Finally, I also feel very strongly that the players I will select for the touring squad must be trusted and respected to fulfil the two fixtures against South Africa."

The RFU is continuing its dialogue with the IRB about extending the date of the World Cup 30-man squad announcement from August 14 until after England's final warm-up game against France on August 18.