World body act against con­tro­ver­sial trend

New Straits Times - - Sport -

KY­OTO: Rugby’s world body raised the res­i­dency pe­riod for Test eli­gi­bil­ity from three to five years yes­ter­day as they moved to stamp out con­tro­ver­sial “player drain” from poor coun­tries to richer ri­vals.

The amended reg­u­la­tion, which comes into ef­fect at the end of 2020, comes af­ter a re­view group de­cided rugby’s cur­rent eli­gi­bil­ity rules were “not in step with the mod­ern game.”

Rugby-mad Pa­cific is­land na­tions have been par­tic­u­larly hard-hit by the leak­ing of tal­ent to the sport’s richer, heavy­weight coun­tries, who fre­quently field nat­u­ralised play­ers.

“This is an his­toric mo­ment for the sport and a great step to­wards pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity, ethos and stature of in­ter­na­tional rugby,” World Rugby vicechair­man Agustin Pi­chot said.

“Na­tional team rep­re­sen­ta­tion is the re­ward for de­vot­ing your ca­reer, your rugby life, to your na­tion and these amend­ments will ensure that the in­ter­na­tional arena is full of play­ers de­voted to their na­tion, who got there on merit.”

The new rul­ing takes ef­fect af­ter the next World Cup, in Ja­pan in 2019, mean­ing it won’t af­fect teams’ cur­rent prepa­ra­tions.

New Zealand, Eng­land, Aus­tralia, Wales and France are among the top teams who reg­u­larly field play­ers orig­i­nally from Pa­cific coun­tries such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

Un­der the amended Reg­u­la­tion 8, which was ap­proved at a spe­cial meet­ing of the World Rugby Coun­cil in Ky­oto, play­ers can also rep­re­sent coun­tries where they have cu­mu­la­tively spent 10 years.

Any­one who plays sevens for a coun­try aged 20 or over, or in the Olympics, be­comes “cap­tured” for that team and can­not rep­re­sent an­other na­tion be­fore ful­fill­ing the five-year rule.

But there was no change to the “grand­par­ent rule“, where play­ers are el­i­gi­ble to rep­re­sent a coun­try where one par­ent or grand­par­ent was born.

The amend­ments fol­low a re­view of Reg­u­la­tion 8 “to con­sider whether it was in step with the mod­ern pro­fes­sional rugby land­scape”, World Rugby said. AFP

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