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'Winning is a habit': How the Wallabies ditching their eligibility laws hurts the team

By Ned Lester
Rob Valentini in the Wallabies huddle. Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images

Rugby Australia seems to have eased its restrictions on eligibility, allowing Eddie Jones to select more than three players from across the globe in the country’s quest for their third Rugby World Cup.


The Giteau law is officially still in place with the intention of restricting selections to just three international-based players who were required to have 30 Wallabies caps or have given five years of service to Australian Rugby. But, there are currently three players in the squad playing their club rugby in Japan and two who play in France.

It’s speculated that when Jones took the helm of the Wallabies, a condition of his signing was ditching the Giteau law to allow the coach unrestricted access to all Australian players.

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Rugby Australia is yet to see any reward for that compromise, with the Wallabies having lost their opening two matches of 2023 against South Africa and Argentina.

“I think this is significant,” Former All Black Jeff Wilson told The Breakdown. “The fact that they’ve ditched their eligibility rules and said ‘these are the guys I want’.

“But I’m thinking the impact of them coming in, playing in a different competition, playing different styles of rugby, and the fact that a lot of the guys who have tasted success against New Zealand sides in Super Rugby, a lot of them aren’t there. And they’re guys in key positions.

Image courtesy of Sky Sport’s The Breakdown.

“And this is the balance of their 23. The Brumbies have six, now they were their best-performing Super Rugby team. The Rebels, they were terrible, they didn’t even make the playoffs but they’ve got six Wallabies and you start going ‘well they’ve got individual talent’ well hold on, winning’s a habit. A lot of these guys, I don’t think they’ve tasted it.

“Now he’s trying to figure out how they want to play and I’m not sure they’ve got that quite right.”


Wilson went on to further explain his thinking, pointing out the Reds’ win over the Chiefs and the Brumbies’ success as blueprints for beating New Zealand sides and evidence of the players who can execute those game plans.

The point was completely lost on Sir John Kirwin however, who said it was “rubbish” because “Australia have never worried about Super Rugby form”.


The two established their difference of opinion was down to Wilson believing in the need for combinations to be forged beyond the international season, for instinctive chemistry to be found through club experience. Alternatively, Kirwin believed for Australia specifically, with their talent scattered across the globe they were best to pick the best players regardless of club combinations.


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Willie 353 days ago

RA will do anything to justify sacking Rennie, even if it means removing selection restrictions for Jones.
RA has about as much integrity as the Morrison government.

007 353 days ago

Is Sir John 'Kirwin' related to Sir John KirwAn? 🤣 #typo

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