World Rugby sent out mixed signals about “the important and necessary step to protecting the integrity and credibility of international rugby”.
World Rugby’s confirmed change from 3 to 5 years of residency will certainly help increasingly under fire nations like South Africa however scrapping the u20 national B-team status could have counter productive.
This u20 rule change will ensure that the quality of the World Rugby u20 Championship is upheld with selected talented youngsters from under threat nations not being burdened by the long term consequences of their choices and continuing to make themselves available. However with the trend suggesting that promising rugby players will move overseas at younger ages in larger numbers, not having an u20 mechanism to at least try and guarantee their availability for test rugby when they are in their prime, could have a significant impact on international rugby in the years to come.
The best solution would be one that makes it as unattractive as possible to hold out for new nation residency qualifications and one in which European (and Japanese) club rugby also plays an increasing role by upping their measures to limit opportunities for overseas players. Maintaining strong domestic leagues are conditioned upon having quality players available to support it. The still relatively strong Southern Hemisphere rugby is heading for serious trouble in this regard with the player drain almost certain to create a situation from which there may be no return.
From World Rugby:
An historic programme of reform of rugby’s international eligibility regulation has been approved by the World Rugby Council today at its special meeting in Kyoto, Japan in 2017.
Regulation 8 change follows detailed review and union consultation and is designed to create a framework that protects the integrity and credibility of international rugby
*Residency period extended from 36 consecutive months to 60 consecutive months
*Council approves expanded voting rights for Argentina and Japan
*Bernard Laporte elected onto the World Rugby Executive Committee
Designed to promote and protect the integrity and sanctity of international rugby in the modern elite environment, reform of Regulation 8 follows a root-and-branch review with Council members unanimously approving the recommended increase in the required residency period to be eligible for international rugby from 36 to 60 months.
The reformed Regulation 8 ensures that a player has a genuine, close, credible and established link with the nation of representation, and the key amendments are:
*The 36-month residency requirement is increased to 60 months with effect from 31 December, 2020 (unanimously approved)
*The addition of a residency criteria which permits players who have 10 years of cumulative residency to be eligible (effective May 10, 2017) (unanimously approved)
*Unions may no longer nominate their U20s team as their next senior national representative team (effective 1 January, 2018) (majority)
(Note the Rule reads: 8.2: A Player who has played for the senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the next senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the senior National Representative Sevens Team of a Union is not eligible to play for the senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the next senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the senior National Representative Sevens Team of another Union.)
*Sevens players will only be captured for the purposes of Regulation 8 where the player has represented either of (i) the senior national representative sevens team of a union where the player has reached the age of 20 on or before the date of participation; or (ii) the national representative sevens team of a union in the Olympic Games or Rugby World Cup Sevens, having reached the age of majority on or before the date of participation in such tournament (effective 1 July, 2017) (majority)