Thursday 29 September 2016

Tony Ward: Current rules make it too easy to swap sides

Published 05/05/2015 | 02:30

Munster’s Player of the Year CJ Stander has announced his intention to opt for Ireland (if selected) ahead of South Africa (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)
Munster’s Player of the Year CJ Stander has announced his intention to opt for Ireland (if selected) ahead of South Africa (Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE)

Just as Munster's Player of the Year CJ Stander has announced his intention to opt for Ireland (if selected) ahead of South Africa, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has announced that Test eligibility rules may be reviewed.

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I'm with Gosper and the former IRB ruling body all the way on this one.

God be with the Grannygate days, but for now the eligibility rule requires nothing more than a three-year residency to qualify for Test eligibility in effectively a player's country of choice.

As the CEO rightly says: "There is a feeling that there has to be some steps taken to ensure that the profile of the national team and by extension the international game retains integrity."

The three-year residency period is about the equivalent of the average professional contract and in my view is far too short - effectively allowing players to change nationality with far too much ease.

A minimum five-year residency would seem a much more appropriate point of entry to an international set-up.

Different times, different rules but bonkers nonetheless.

Irish Independent

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