World Rugby’s Residency Rule Could Be Set For Major Change


Connacht star Bundee Aki may be among those considering an international switch to Ireland, but the rules which govern international eligibility could be about to change sooner than we thought.

The New Zealand born centre recently admitted he has spoken to Joe Schmidt about possibly declaring for Ireland when he becomes eligible in October of next year, but could be one of the last players to take advantage of the relatively short three-year rule.

CJ Stander 7/2/2016

CJ Stander recently took advantage of the three-year rule.

Earlier this year, newly-elected World Rugby vice-chairman Augustin Pichot spoke out against the current length of the rule and chairman Bill Beaumont said today that the situation was being reviewed. Pichot is believed to be in favour of a five-year rule to replace the current one.

“We are constantly reviewing all our laws and this is one we are looking at,” Beaumont told reporters today.

“My colleague (Pichot) does have a passion about it. It’s something we need to keep looking at as there are different eligibility rules for the Olympics and other sports.

“We consult the unions, we make the recommendations but they decide. We’ll put a group together within World Rugby, elected members and external too as we don’t want to be too insular. It will be discussed during executive meeting on Wednesday and might go to Council after that discussion.

“All 126 unions will be consulted but if there is going to be any change it would be in 12 months or so.”


World Rugby’s CEO Brett Gosper admitted that when the topic was raised 18 months ago there was little appetite, but that has since changed, with more serious discussions to be held this time round.

“This time the approach will be more holistic,” he said.

“We’ll be looking at eligibility, residency, the grandparent rule, player movement, the Olympics etc. We might end up in the same place but we may not.”  

Should World Rugby change the residency rule to five years?


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