Scotland coach Frank Hadden's hopes of spending more training time with his international players ahead of next year's RBS 6 Nations have suffered a significant blow.
Following the defeat against South Africa in the second Autumn Test this month, Hadden made the point with no little emotion in the post-match press conference that he felt handicapped by the lack of time he spent with his squad.
That comment was undoubtedly stimulated by the failure to gain access to his English Premiership players before the November series of matches.
The former Edinburgh coach could do nothing about the IRB ruling at the time but hoped the situation would improve in the future.
However the timeframe for international player-release from clubs is to remain capped following a meeting in Dublin.
Players will, though, be allowed to attend a three-day training session with their countries on the Monday of the week prior to the RBS 6 Nations and Autumn Internationals, as well a third session at an unspecified time.
SRU chief executive Gordon McKie said: “This will have the potential capacity to diminish the pre-eminence of international rugby,” said McKie.
“In effect, only rich unions, and those with players centrally contracted will have access to them when they want.
“It's vital for all unions and for all players that access to international rugby, the pinnacle of our game, is not restricted to the cash-rich unions, to ensure that the principle of best-versus-best is achieved.
“Clearly the consequence of this ruling is that we have not achieved the access to players that we have been at pains to secure,” said Hadden.
“I am personally disappointed, but will continue to communicate and work with the 17 clubs our international squad play for to ensure that our players are prepared as best as possible for the challenges that lie ahead.”