Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

World Rugby has confirmed sweeping changes to its eligibility policy which will have a significant effect on South African rugby, writes Craig Ray.

The World Rugby Council passed amendments to regulation eight of its constitution in Kyoto‚ Japan.

Under the amended law‚ a player can qualify for a country if he serves a consecutive five-year (60-month) residency period instead of a consecutive three-year (36-month) duration. There is a grace period before the change kicks in‚ with the amendment effective from December 31 2020.

This means South Africans who are uncapped Springboks or Junior Springboks (SA’s two nominated representative national teams) and are hoping to qualify for Test eligibility for another country would need to take up new contracts in 2017.

Stormers prop Oli Kebble‚ who will join Scottish club Glasgow Warriors later in 2017 ‚ is an example. His three-year eligi-bility period to play for Scotland would end in time for the 2019 November Tests‚ when Scotland could select him.

But any players taking French‚ Irish or British club contracts in 2018‚ in the hope of qualifying as Test players for one of those countries‚ would have to wait five years.

It could lead to a short-term flurry of young South African players who are uncapped at Test or Junior Bok level to search for overseas contracts in the next few months.

But from 2018‚ this change would be a deterrent for young players hoping to forge a Test career elsewhere.

World Rugby has also banned national under-20 teams as the nominated second representative national team from January 1 2018. In simple terms‚ future Junior Bok players could play for another country‚ which has not been the case for the past four seasons.

It leaves SA Rugby with a decision to make on whether the SA A team would become its second nominated representative team.

In 2013 the Junior Boks were nominated due to lack of fixtures for the SA A team. SA A have only played two matches in five years.

TMG Digital

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