Super Rugby 2017

Week Eleven

A Thought For The Week:

World Rugby, driven by Augustin Pichot’s stated desire to even the playing fields between the rich north and the poor south, have taken an important step towards making it harder for the itinerant labourers of rugby switch allegiance. The Fijians, Samoans, South Africans, New Zealanders and the others who eschew the land pf theoir birth to g and play international rugby for someone else will now have to comply with a five year residency period before they may be selected for their “new” country.

A reform of rugby’s international eligibility regulation was approved by the World Rugby Council on Wednesday at its special meeting in Kyoto, Japan.
The change to Regulation 8 follows a detailed review and union consultation and is designed to create a framework that protects the integrity and credibility of international rugby.

The residency period has been extended from 36 consecutive months to 60 consecutive months. (I like the “consecutive” months ruling! There is no going “home” for the summer.. if you chose Scotland, then you stay in Scotland, not on a game farm in South Africa!) The addition of a residency criteria which permits players who have 10 years of cumulative residency to be eligible (effective May 10, 2017).

It signals a historic programme of reform of rugby’s international eligibility regulation, something that came tp a head at last year’s Olympics when a host of Sevens players found themselves eligible in terms of the Games’ rules on national representation. The Olympics insist that you must be a citizen of the country you are representing. Quade Cooper was the first to be sent home when it was found that the Wallaby flyhalf was actually a New Zealand citizen!

Designed to promote and protect the integrity and sanctity of international rugby in the modern elite environment, the reform of Regulation 8 ensures that a player has a genuine, close, credible and established link with the nation of he wants to represent.

Unions may no longer nominate their U20s team as their next senior national representative team (effective January 1, 2018).

Sevens players will only be captured for the purposes of Regulation 8 where the player has represented either of (i) the senior national representative sevens team of a union where the player has reached the age of 20 on or before the date of participation; or (ii) the national representative sevens team of a union in the Olympic Games or Rugby World Cup Sevens, having reached the age of majority on or before the date of participation in such tournament (effective July 1, 2017).

The landmark decision follows agreement on a long-term optimised global international calendar beyond 2019 and represents another major reform for World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont and Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot in the first year of their four-year mandate.

Beaumont said: “This reform of Regulation 8 governing eligibility is an important and necessary step to protecting the integrity and credibility of international rugby.

“This extension to the residency period within a forward-thinking reform package will ensure a close, credible and established link between a union and players, which is good for rugby and good for fans.

“I would like to thank my union colleagues for their support and in particular the leadership role that Agustín Pichot played in this very important process that has delivered an outcome that is good for the global game.”

Pichot added: “This is an historic moment for the sport and a great step towards protecting the integrity, ethos and stature of international rugby.” “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.”

Council’s decision follows considerable positive and constructive discussion between member unions, initiated by Pichot, who led calls for an extension of the eligibility criteria to protect the integrity and sanctity of international rugby.

Under the leadership of Beaumont, a compact review group was established to undertake a root-and-branch review of the regulation to consider whether it was in step with the modern professional rugby landscape, with the group making the recommendations to Council following member union consultation.

The group determined that Regulation 8 was not in step with the modern game, did not provide an adequate framework to protect the integrity of the international game and does not provide a deterrent to player drain from emerging rugby nations.

Bernard Laporte (France) was elected on to the World Rugby Executive Committee by a majority. Laporte, who ran against Mark Alexander (South Africa), replaces Pierre Camou.Argentina and Japan receive additional vote on Council.

Council approved the recommendation from Executive Committee that Argentina and Japan receive an additional vote each (with no representative) in line with the governance criteria. Both will receive three votes on the decision-making body with immediate effect.

Bernard Laporte and Serge Simon (both France) were appointed to the Rugby and Regulations committees respectively. Alfredo Gavazzi (Italy) was appointed to the Budget Advisory Committee, Claudia Betancur (Colombia) was appointed to the Women’s Advisory Committee and Trevor Gregory (Asia Rugby) was appointed Regional Advisory Chairman in accordance with the rotation policy. John O’Driscoll (Ireland) was appointed chairman of the Anti-Doping Advisory Committee. Steve Tew (New Zealand) chaired his first Audit and Risk Committee and provided that report to Council.