Former Samoan international and Pacific Rugby Players Welfare board member Dan Leo is calling for a change to World Rugby’s eligibility law.
Leo says that World Rugby’s current law that lets players represent just one nation “is behind the times”, and believes a change would “almost certainly have an immediate impact, both on the quality and growth of our sport.”
Writing for TheRugbyPaper, Leo argues that former test players should be able to represent developing nations if they are surplus to requirements later in their career.
“With the mass migration of Pacific Islanders to places like New Zealand, Australia, and now Japan and Europe, the one-nation-for-life rule that World Rugby currently operates by, is behind the times. It hinders poorer nations, prejudices people from lower socio-economic back- grounds and only serves the interests of those rugby nations that are already established,” Leo wrote.
“Surely this directly contrasts with the values of the game that we wave about so proudly?”
Leo identified a possible solution. He argues that allowing players to continue their international careers with another nation after a stand-down period could remedy the issue.
“If Bundee Aki can qualify through residency for Ireland in three years, then surely the same should exist the other way around? His last cap coming for New Zealand in 2015, shouldn’t [Charles] Piutau now be be able to play for Tonga after a three-year stand down?”
Leo also detailed options of a shorter or longer stand-down, and argued that movement should only happen from a Tier 1 nation down to a Tier 2/3 nation.
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