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World Rugby changes Test eligibility rules

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

The reforms, pushed by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot since 2015, passed with unanimous support at the World Rugby Council in Kyoto on Wednesday. © MARCOS BRINDICCI/Reuters The reforms, pushed by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot since 2015, passed with unanimous support at the World Rugby Council in Kyoto on Wednesday. Kiwi rugby players seeking to play for other Test sides will find defection far more difficult after World Rugby extended the residency requirement to switch national teams from three to five years from the end of 2020.

The reforms, pushed by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot since 2015, passed with unanimous support at the World Rugby Council in Kyoto on Wednesday.

As a result, players will have to reside in a country for an additional two years before becoming eligible for Test selection.

The Council also voted to make players with a decade of cumulative residency in a country eligible for immediate Test selection.

Given the All Blacks' strength in depth, a number of Kiwi-born players - including Irish utility back and British and Irish Lions representative Jared Payne - have decided to throw their lot in with other nations after club stints overseas.

French prop Uini Atonio also fits into this category, while ex-Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki is expected to follow the same path.

"This is an historic moment for the sport and a great step towards protecting the integrity, ethos and stature of international rugby," 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."

Rules were also introduced to prevent countries from capping dual-eligible players as youngsters in an attempt to prevent them playing elsewhere.

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Video provided by Reuters

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