Wales to adopt the Wallaby model
WALES are preparing to introduce a controversial new rule aimed at stemming the exodus of their international players.
They are in talks about following Australia’s move and recommending that any contracted players with fewer than a specified number of caps will not be allowed to join a club outside Wales.
Rhys Webb’s £1.7m move to Toulon next season has given a new urgency to talks between the WRU and their four regional teams.
TRP understands those talks centre around the introduction of a cap limit.
A rule barring any Welsh international from leaving until he has played 60 Tests would have kept the 28-cap Webb with the Ospreys.
Had it been in operation, Taulupe Faletau would have been forced to delay his move from the Dragons to Bath.
Wales now seem likely to adopt the Wallaby model – or a variation of it – which initially barred any player employed outside Australia from Test selection. Incoming head coach Michael Cheka had that rule changed to allow those who had appeared in a minimum of 60 internationals in Australia before leaving to be eligible.
That allowed Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, then both at Toulon, to appear in the last World Cup.
“The reality is that ‘Gatland’s Law’, or whatever you want to call it, isn’t working,” a source told The
Rugby Paper. “The whole purpose of national dual contracts is to keep the best players in Wales but that’s not working. Everyone is very concerned because the future of the game is at stake.
“We have to find a way to make the selection policy work and one way is to make it clear to every player that unless you’ve played a certain number of times for Wales, you cannot leave. That would be written into every contract as a condition of employment.”
‘Gatland’s Law’ has repeatedly failed to deliver on its basic premise – that Welsh-based players will be picked ahead of rivals earning substantially more at English and French clubs.
When they drew up the ‘Senior Player Selection Policy’ with the regions four seasons ago as part of the peace settlement, the WRU failed to put any cap limit in place. Had they done so, Test Lions like George North, Jonathan Davies and Leigh Halfpenny would have been barred from joining Northampton, Clermont and Toulon.
Although Davies and Halfpenny have since returned, Wales have lost more to market forces than they have recaptured. Unless they succeed in persuading Ross Moriarty to sign a dual contract, he will be one of eight Welsh players in England, alongside North, Biggar, Faletau, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams, Luke Charteris and Tomas Francis with a ninth,Webb, in France.