World Rugby rule change allows players to switch national teams

By Sports Desk November 24, 2021

International players will be permitted to change allegiances, subject to meeting certain criteria, following the approval of the World Rugby Council.

The amendment to the sport's regulations governing national team representation will come into effect from January 1, 2022.

Following extensive discussions, the new process has been applied with the aim of benefitting players and the global competitiveness of rugby.

In order to meet the criteria, a player must either be born in the country to which they wish to transfer, or have a parent or grandparent who was born in that country.

Furthermore, a player hoping to make the switch must stand down from international rugby for a period of three years.

Players may only change union once and each case will be subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee in order to preserve integrity.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modelling and consultation across the game. 

"We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.

"Any player who wishes to transfer will need to have a close and credible link to their new union, namely birth right or parent or grandparent birth right while meeting strong criteria, including a 36-month stand-down period. 

"We believe that this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men's and women’s game."

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