Will CJ Stander play for Ireland? World Rugby to review 'integrity' of residency rule
World Rugby is to review the Test eligibility rules that Munster's CJ Stander hopes will allow him to qualify for Ireland next year, amid concerns that the increasing movement of players from the southern hemisphere to Europe could threaten the integrity of national squads.
Existing regulations allow players who have not been capped previously at ‘A’ level or above to qualify for any country in which they have lived for three years in succession.
Almost all of the Six Nations squads this season contained players who qualified on residency. And the increasing financial lure of the European clubs has sparked fears that young players from the southern hemisphere are being encouraged to forsake playing for their countries of birth to pursue international careers in the northern hemisphere.
South African-born 25-year-old CJ Stander captained the Springboks' U20 side but will qualify for Ireland on residency grounds in late October.
Current Irish internationals Jared Payne and Richardt Strauss qualified for Ireland under the rule.
Brett Gosper, the World Rugby chief executive, admitted that it may be time to review the three-year rule in order to preserve the integrity of international competition and prevent an exodus of players from Sanzar (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) and the Pacific Island countries. “When that [the residency rule] was determined, I don’t think there was quite the flow of players in international movement that it’s become in recent years, through Europe and Japan, and so on,” Gosper told Fairfax Media.
“I know that [the World Rugby] president [Bernard] Lapasset has indicated that this may be something we need to look at again in the future, and look at whether the three-year residency is enough to ensure that integrity of the international game, so that may be something that may need to be looked at.
“You want to preserve the specialness of the international game and therefore while club sides are gathering all-stars from around the world, and top international players, I think there is a feeling that there has to be some steps taken to ensure that the profile of the national team has that integrity.”
Gosper said that any change to the rules, however, would require a vote by the World Rugby council following a report by a working group.