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Thread: WR to vote on easing Test team switching

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    WR to vote on easing Test team switching

    Whether this gets up is another question, but it is an interesting one.

    World Rugby to vote on easing rules on player Test team switches

    By Chris Jones
    BBC rugby union correspondent
    Last updated 2 hours ago

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    Malakai Fekitoa, who played for New Zealand in the 2017 Test series against the British and Irish Lions, qualified for Tonga after playing Olympic Sevens qualifying in the summer

    International players will be able to switch nationality if revolutionary changes to eligibility rules are voted through by World Rugby later this month.

    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.

    The likes of All Blacks superstar Charles Piutau could represent Tonga as soon as next year in what would be a major boost to Pacific Island nations before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

    The World Rugby council will discuss the proposals at the next meeting on 24 November, with a 75% majority, or 39 of 52 votes, required for the ruling to pass.

    What are the current rules?
    Under the current rules, a player is "captured" once they have won a senior cap - a nation's 2nd XV and sevens team can also capture players - and are thereafter tied to that country and unable to play for another nation.

    Rugby sevens' inclusion in the Olympic Games from 2016 has provided an eligibility loophole, with former All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa an example of a player who has successfully switched nationality after representing Tonga in Olympic qualifying events.

    Fekitoa, who won 24 New Zealand caps between 2014 and 2017 and played against the British and Irish Lions, became eligible for the country of his birth earlier this year. He would be playing for Tonga against England on Saturday were it not for injury.

    However, securing release from club employers has proved difficult for other players, while the prospect of playing sevens is weighted towards backs as opposed to tight-five forwards - the locks, hooker and props who are normally the biggest and heaviest players on the team.

    What is being proposed?
    Under the new plans, a player would be eligible for a nationality switch once they have not played international rugby for three years.

    If they then have 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.

    In theory, it means players like Mako and Billy Vunipola would be eligible to play for Tonga, through their father, if they aren't capped by England between now and 2024, although Billy Vunipola last year ruled this prospect out.

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    Nathan Hughes, right, made his second England appearance against Fiji, the land of his birth, in 2016
    The Fijian-born Bristol number eight Nathan Hughes, who won the last of his 22 England caps in 2019, would then be able to switch to his home country in 2022.


    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.

    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.

    https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/59139431

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Seems a pretty positive move. I'm on-side with any changes that help make PI nations stronger. I'm not sure which nations this refers to.....

    "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."

    I thought most of them , as well as the PI's, pick players who earn a living in the pro leagues. Georgia, USA, Canada......?

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    This was inevitable once sevens became an Olympic sport.

    That opened the door for players to change, thus creating the loophole and making the current system inconsistent.

    Once there is inconsistency it is accompanied by rorting and complaints.

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    Not sure how I feel about this one. In principle I approve, but I don't like the thought of Aussies or New Zealanders deciding to cash in in the UK or France and still play test rugby. I'd be pretty livid if someone we'd select if they were playing in Australia was allowed to play for another team. It undermines us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Not sure how I feel about this one. In principle I approve, but I don't like the thought of Aussies or New Zealanders deciding to cash in in the UK or France and still play test rugby. I'd be pretty livid if someone we'd select if they were playing in Australia was allowed to play for another team. It undermines us.
    But but but

    That already occurs. Check out the Japanese team, a significant number qualify through residency only. Yes it takes a long time and they're locked in once they earn a cap, but we've still got lots of players around the world playing for teams they have no genuine association with.

    On the whole, I think it'll be a good thing, meaning that players who earn a single cap early in their career for a Tier 1 nation won't be lost to their nation of birth forever. Think how many Pacific Islanders would qualify to play for their home nation even now, those blokes who picked up a cap for NZ or Oz but didn't kick on and cement a long term slot could still be used by Tonga, Samoa, Fiji etc.

    The flip side is that it doesn't protect those same tier 2 nations from being poached by greedy tier 1 nations, after they've blooded local talent that wasn't seen as valuable by the big boys until they've got their head around the standard could then be coerced to play for a tier 1 nation completely legally.

    Given the nature of imbalance in Rugby, I would think that their needs to be at least a gentleman's agreement that tier 2 nations will be the beneficiaries of this, not the team with the most money

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    This means that the All Blacks could pick Quade Cooper if he doesn't play for a few years

    I think it is ok but they should limit it to country of birth or the parents. Grandparents is becoming too much of a stretch now to be doing this as it just captures too many.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha Handy View Post
    This means that the All Blacks could pick Quade Cooper if he doesn't play for a few years

    I think it is ok but they should limit it to country of birth or the parents. Grandparents is becoming too much of a stretch now to be doing this as it just captures too many.
    Now there's a thought. "Quickdraw" for coach??

    Just imagine if this were allowed @ the 2015 RWC for example. All Black greats from 2011 RWC like Rokokoko, Sivivatu, Jerry Collins, Lauaki, Soialo, Toeava, Muliaina etc., could have turned out for the PI's. And no parent or grandparent allowance needed!! They might have even won one.

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    Or they could do it rugby league style and only allow lower tier nations to get players off first tier ones.

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    Last edited by chibi; 03-11-21 at 21:45.


    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    I reckon make it an application process, and if the original test nation gives blessing, it goes ahead. I reckon that'd allow 95%+ to change while preventing rorts.

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    Law change could set Folau free to play for Tonga at World Cup

    Israel Folau could represent Tonga at the 2023 Rugby World Cup if revolutionary changes to eligibility laws are given the tick of approval by World Rugby later this month.

    https://www.watoday.com.au/sport/rug...04-p5964o.html

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