The presence of ten English-based players in Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad for the Six Nations has caused a lot of confusion on both sides of the Severn due to the 60-cap rule.
Currently, any player with under 60-caps for Wales cannot be picked if they are not playing for a Welsh region. This, therefore, excludes both Northampton Saints’ Dan Biggar, Bath’s Taulupe Faletau and Saracens’ Liam Willams, although he is due to return to the Scarlets.
However, there are seven more players that are still based in the Gallagher Premiership who are in the squad, including the uncapped quartet of Lous Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Will Rowlands and WillGriff John.
Because these were obviously uncapped when they signed their contract with their clubs, they are exempt from the ruling.
This was also the case for Rhys Carre and Jonah Holmes when they signed for Saracens and Leicester Tigers respectively. Similarly, this ruling was not in place when Gloucester’s Owen Williams was first capped for Wales in 2017.
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While this explains why they are in the squad now, it does throw their futures into doubt. Unless a player has 60 caps at the end of their current contract, which none of those seven will have, they must play for a Welsh region in order to continue to be eligible for Wales.
The strategy behind Gloucester's decision to offer Louis Rees-Zammit new terms…https://t.co/NUFT7DgHgU
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 14, 2020
The concern is that there will be an exodus in the coming years, as players seek to continue representing Wales.
Gloucester were wise to this over the past week, tying Rees-Zammit down to a long-term contract extension to ensure he remains at Kingsholm for a few more years.
Tompkins’ Saracens contract also does not expire until 2022, meaning he still has two more seasons with the English and European champions.
I just wish I could be a fly on the wall in 2022 when they're telling Tompkins he has to leave Sarries and join Ospreys as he doesn't have 60 caps and it'll be better for his career..
— James Prewett (@j_prewett) January 15, 2020
So seeing as Nick Tompkins has been called up for the Wales squad, does that mean he will have to play his domestic rugby in Wales once his Saracens contract is up?
— Can I Get You a Beer (@ShepardUk) January 15, 2020
Exeter Chiefs showed the way around this ruling last season by giving Wales prop Tomas Francis a contract extension rather than a new contract, as the ruling only stipulates that the players cannot sign new contracts outside of Wales. Then again, these contract extensions will have to be something that the players want to sign.
Been said a lot but England are foolish for letting Wales get him. Quality player.
Shit for Sarries though because we now lose another player in the international windows and then when his contract ends in two years he’ll be off to Pro 14!
— Grubber Rucky (@GrubberRucky) January 15, 2020
If he wants to play for Wales, he'll sign a contract at a region. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
— Angus (@PSGAJ) January 15, 2020
There is a loophole in the 60 cap rule that he can keep playing for Saracens as long as he extends his current contract rather than sign a new one – E.g. Tomas Francis
— Morgan Ball (@morgan_ball96) January 15, 2020
Therefore, while there are ways around such a ruling, there are worries that players at clubs across England will have to leave in the future unless the ruling is scrapped by the end of their contracts.
Elsewhere, Rhys Webb also finds himself in the squad despite playing for Toulon. This debacle has transpired over the past few weeks and although he was previously excluded from the Wales squad due to being at Toulon, he can now make his return having signed for the Ospreys ahead of next season.
WATCH: Wayne Pivac announces his squad for Wales’ 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign
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