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World Rugby approves birthright amendment

November 25, 2021 4:45 am
Taqele Naiyaravoro.

There’s good news for Pacific Island unions as World Rugby has approved the eligibility change rule to allow players to switch nationality.

This morning the World Rugby Council approved an amendment to the sport’s regulations governing national team representation that will now permit an international player to transfer once from one union to another subject to demonstrating a close and credible link to that union via birthright.

This means players like Tevita Kuridrani, Waisake Naholo, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Henry Speight, Nathan Hughes, Sefa Naivalu, Seta Tamanivalu, Joe Cokanasiga, and Semesa Rokoduguni are eligible to play for the Flying Fijians.

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Even Israel Folau, Charles Piutau, Ngani Laumape,Vaea Fifita and Malakai Fekitoa can now feature for Tonga.

The Samoans will now be able to acquire the services of Lima Sopoaga, Julian Savea, Steven Luatua, George Moala, and Charlie Faumauina,

From January 1st, 2022, in order to transfer from one union to another under the revised eligibility regulation, a player will need to stand down from international rugby for three years, be born in the country to which they wish to transfer, or have a parent or grandparent born in that country.

Under the revised Regulation 8 criteria, a player may only change union once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee to preserve integrity.

In a statement, World Rugby said the Regulation 8 revisions will also align the “age of majority” across 15s and sevens. All players will now be ‘captured’ at 18 years of age to simplify the Regulation and improve union understanding and compliance.

Approval of the amended regulation follows requests by emerging nations and a subsequent wide-ranging consultation process with member unions, regions, and International Rugby Players examining the possibility of amending the principle within Regulation that stipulates that a player may only represent one union at the international level, save for specific circumstances relating to participation in the Olympic Games.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modeling and consultation across the game.

Beaumont added they have listened to their members and players and sought to update the regulation recognizing the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.

International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein said the proposal to change the rules around player eligibility is something that they have worked on over many years with member associations.

Hassanein said many players across the world will now benefit from the chance to represent the country of their or their ancestors’ birth, serving as a real boost to the competitiveness of emerging nations, which in turn, will benefit the game as a whole.

[Source:World Rugby]

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