Here’s What The New Residency Rules Means For The Likes of Aki, Bleyendaal & James Lowe

World Rugby has voted to increase the required residency period to be eligible for international rugby from three to five years.

The sport’s global governing body approved the recommended extension at at a council meeting held in Kyoto this morning ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2019 draw.

It is hoped that raising the level from 36 to 60 months will safeguard the playing resources of smaller nations – particularly the Pacific Island teams – by discouraging their stars from pledging allegiance to other countries.

Here’s a breakdown of exactly what has been agreed at the special meeting in Kyoto, Japan.

  • Regulation 8 change follows detailed review and union consultation and is designed to create a framework that protects the integrity and credibility of international rugby
  • Residency period extended from 36 consecutive months to 60 consecutive months
  • Council approves expanded voting rights for Argentina and Japan
  • Bernard Laporte elected onto the World Rugby Executive Committee

The reformed Regulation 8 ensures that a player has a genuine, close, credible and established link with the nation of representation, and the key amendments are:

  • The 36-month residency requirement is increased to 60 months with effect from 31 December, 2020 (unanimously approved)
  • The addition of a residency criteria which permits players who have 10 years of cumulative residency to be eligible (effective May 10, 2017) (unanimously approved)
  • Unions may no longer nominate their U20s team as their next senior national representative team (effective 1 January, 2018) (majority)
  • 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 1 July, 2017) (majority)

So what does this mean for the likes of Bundee Aki, Tyler Bleyendaal and Leinster bound winger James Lowe? Bleyendaal and Aki will be eligible to play for Ireland later this year and are not affected by the rule change. Neither will the likes of more recent arrivals such as Rhys Marshall at Munster or Jamison Gibson Park at Leinster.

New Zealander James Lowe, who arrives at Leinster this summer from the Chiefs, would be eligible to play for Ireland by autumn 2020, getting in before the December 31st 2020 cut-off.

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