Webb blasts Wales over eligibility change

by AFP

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb blasted the Welsh Rugby Union on Thursday for not informing him of new rules regarding Test selection before he agreed to join French side Toulon.

The 28-year-old, a member of the British and Irish Lions squad that came within a whisker of beating world champions New Zealand earlier this year with the series tied 1-1 and one drawn, secured a lucrative move to Toulon only then to discover that under new rules revealed this week Welsh players playing abroad must have been capped 60 times to be eligible for selection.

Webb, who under the old rules would have been eligible for one of head coach Warren Gatland's four choices of players playing outside the principality, has just 28 caps.

"I don't know how long it's going to take me to get over it," Webb told BBC Wales.

"It's a joke. I'm disappointed. Representing your country means so much to me and being told I won't be able to play for them is heartbreaking."

Wales halfback Rhys Webb tries to evade English defence. Photo: Getty ImagesWebb was willing to make the switch to Toulon -- he wasn't happy with the money on offer form the Ospreys and the WRU -- and gamble he would be in the sort of form to earn himself one of the two wildcard picks due to be introduced for the 2019-20 season.

"I made my mind up on the basis that the policy was the wildcard system.

No-one had mentioned it was going to change," he said.

"I signed for Toulon on the basis if I was playing well I could still be considered. It was still such a tough decision. I felt I had to speak to the Ospreys face to face. It was heartbreaking to tell them.

"No-one had told me (about the policy change). Not even the Ospreys had mentioned in when I went to see them."

Webb is adamant that despite his devastation at seeing his immediate Test career brought to a halt he will honour his deal at Toulon having signed a three-year contract.

"I won't be doing that. My future lies in Toulon," he said.

Webb suggested that if he had known about the changes being brought in he would have sacrificed the financial benefits for his patriotic duty.

"I just know playing for Wales is why you play the game," he said.

"Being picked for Wales is still a dream now. To know that won't be happening again is hurtful, it's genuinely just upsetting."