Saturday 21 September 2019

'If I was Devin Toner... I will be asking World Rugby for answers' - vice chairman Pichot weighs into selection debate

South African-born Jean Kleyn has been selected for Ireland's World Cup squad ahead of Devin Toner. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
South African-born Jean Kleyn has been selected for Ireland's World Cup squad ahead of Devin Toner. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt's decision to select Jean Kleyn ahead of Devin Toner is creating an international storm, with World Rugby vice chairman Augustin Pichot the latest to weigh in on the matter.

Following former Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald's criticism of the decision to omit the Leinster second-row and pick the newly-qualified South African, the ex-Argentina scrum-half, who has long been a critic of the residency laws, said Toner has a right to be angry with World Rugby.

Kleyn made his Irish debut against Italy last month, having qualified on residency after signing for Munster in August, 2016.

He is the latest 'project player' to be capped having been recruited by the IRFU, following in the foot-steps of Quinn Roux, CJ Stander, Richardt Strauss, Nathan White, Rodney Ah You, Bundee Aki, Jared Payne and Robbie Diack among others.

Augustin Pichot
Augustin Pichot

Kleyn joins South African Stander and New Zealander Aki in the squad named by Schmidt today.

Ireland are not alone in using the rules, with England, Scotland and Wales all capping players on residency in recent years.

On Twitter, Pichot said: "If I was Devin Toner... I will be asking World Rugby for answers. I feel sorry for him. Nothing against for who was properly selected for RWC19 by the way. But I feel that way."

Earlier, Fitzgerald took to Twitter with his tongue firmly in cheek to voice his unease at the selection of the new man over a 69-times-capped stalwart in Toner.

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"Looking like South Africa v South Africa ‘A’ in the World Cup QF...if all goes to plan #brokensystem #theshaftofallshafts" he wrote.

Fitzgerald has previously criticised the use of overseas signings who qualify under World Rugby's residency laws.

Pichot has also been a vocal critic of the rules and successfully agitated to change the duration a player must live in a country to qualify from three to five years.

That change comes into effect from 2020, with Leinster's James Lowe and Munster's Rhys Marshall set to qualify after the World Cup beforehand.

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