New proposals on World Rugby eligibility rules – FBC News

World Rugby will vote later this month on eligibility rules which means international players will be able to switch nationality if the proposed rules are passed.

Under the new proposals, players will be able to represent the country of their or their ancestors’ birth after a three-year stand-down period.

This means if a player has a “close and credible link” to another country, through birth or the birthplace of parents or grandparents, then they would be able to change nationality. Players would only be able to switch once in their careers.

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In theory, it means a player like Bristol Bears and former England number eight Nathan Hughes who won the last of his 22 England caps in 2019, would then be able to switch to Fiji in 2022.

The World Rugby Council will discuss the proposals at the next meeting on 25 November, with a 75% majority, or 39 of 52 votes, required for the ruling to pass.

Under the current rules, a player is “captured” once they have won a senior cap which is a nation’s second 15 like the Fiji Warriors and sevens team can also capture players and are thereafter tied to that country and unable to play for another nation.

While the changes are likely to be supported by the Pacific Island countries, especially given the high proportion of players with Pacific Island ancestry representing other nations, there are concerns about the unintended consequence of allowing players to switch, as well as fears it could discriminate against other Tier Two countries who base their systems on home-grown players.

Meanwhile, World Rugby has already extended the residency qualification period from three years to five years, with this ruling set to take effect from 31 December 2021.

[Source: BBC Sport]


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