By Eleanor Gee
Tonga and other Pacific Islands will benefit from the new eligibility rules approved yesterday by the World Rugby Council that will allow international players like former All Blacks, Charles Piutau and former Wallaby Israel Folau to easily transfer from one union to another starting next year.
Under the regulation 8 revision, players must stand down from international rugby for three years, and either be born in the country they wish to transfer to or have a parent or grandparent born in that country.
In addition, a player may only change union once, subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee to preserve integrity.
Players who meet the criteria can apply for a transfer immediately after January 1, 2022.
This is good news for emerging nations who will be able to secure talented players leading up to the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
The amendment to the eligibility regulation was made following requests by emerging nations and subsequent consultations held with member unions, regions and international rugby players.
“We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game,” said World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.
“We believe that this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men’s and women’s game.”