World Rugby plans to halt 'player drain'

Racing 92's Fiji centre Leone Nakarawa runs with a ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match  at the Jean Bouin stadium in Paris.
Racing 92's Fiji centre Leone Nakarawa runs with a ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match at the Jean Bouin stadium in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

KYOTO • Rugby's world body raised the residency period for Test eligibility from three to five years yesterday as it moved to stamp out controversial "player drain" from poor countries to richer rivals.

The amended regulation, which comes into effect in 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 Fiji, Tonga and Samoa have been particularly hit by the talent leak to the sport's richer, heavyweight countries. New Zealand, England, Australia, Wales and France are among the top teams who frequently field naturalised players.

World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot said: "National team representation is the reward for devoting your career, your rugby life, to your nation and these amendments will ensure the international arena is full of players devoted to their nation."

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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's parent or grandparent was born.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline 'World Rugby plans to halt 'player drain''. Print Edition | Subscribe