Rugby chief hits out at laws that allow CJ Stander to play for Ireland
World Rugby vice-chairman hits out at laws that allow Stander to play for Ireland
Former Argentina scrum-half and World Rugby's new vice-chairman Agustin Pichot has hit out at rugby's three-year residency laws, saying change is needed.
Ireland are among a number of countries who have exploited Regulation 8 to boost their player base. The rule states that a player can qualify to play for a country after living there for 36 consecutive months.
Such strong sentiment from such a high-ranking official will be taken seriously by the IRFU, who have recruited players from New Zealand and South Africa so that they can qualify to play for Ireland.
Since Richardt Strauss was given his debut against his native South Africa in 2012, 16pc of Ireland's debutants have qualified on residency grounds, including regular starters Jared Payne and CJ Stander. That trend is set to continue when the likes of Bundee Aki, Wiehahn Herbst and Tom McCartney qualify in 2017.
World Rugby reviewed the residency rule in October and chief executive Brett Gosper said there was "no appetite" for change, but his new vice-chairman believes that the period of three years must be extended to five at the very least.
"Somebody will kill me, but we need to change it," he said after being elected to his new position in Dublin yesterday. "This is my personal opinion. It's wrong. It should be for life, like in football. I understand maybe a five-year (qualification period) and it has been discussed and I think it will be on the agenda in the next six months.
"It's not an urgent part, but it is very important to keep the identity of your national team; it's very important.
"It's a cultural thing and an inspiration to young kids. . . when you have on your team all players who haven't lived in the country that they represent, it's not great.
"There are special cases when people move when they're 10 years old, but going back to when a player is taken, like they are doing now, from an academy in Tonga and putting him to play, say, in an Ireland shirt. . . I'm against it, it's not right. I would love him to play for Tonga, to make money in Tonga and live well.
"When I see the national anthem and people not singing it, it confuses me a little bit."
Meanwhile, Ireland's plans for the South Africa tour have been hit by the loss of Josh van der Flier (ankle), while Simon Zebo (knee) is a major doubt.