Wallabies review to shed light on future of "Giteau Law"

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Any change to Rugby Australia’s Giteau Law may not come until the next generation with Australia focused on ensuring their young talent stays in Super Rugby.

The law will be part of a wide-ranging review currently being conducted by Pat Howard, Bo Hanson and Nathan Sharpe, that involved interviewing all Wallabies staff and players.

Currently, Wallabies can only be selected for Test duty from overseas if they have played more than 60 Tests for Australia.

A host of players well below this mark have moved offshore since the Rugby World Cup, including star centre Samu Kerevi, locks Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold and hooker Tolu Latu.

All of those players played important roles in the Wallabies’ recent seasons but will not be able to play for the Wallabies unless they return to Super Rugby.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle has previously said it would be “irresponsible” not to review the law and that she, Scott Johnson and high performance boss Ben Whitaker would conduct a review.

Now, though, it seems that responsibility has partly transferred to the independent panel.

“That will come off the back of the outputs of the review, there's no rush for us to have a look at that,”she said.

“It's not just about thinking what it does for Rugby Australia, it’s about thinking about the changes that are happening in the wider international landscape, what other countries are doing around their rules, where competitions land and timing of those competitions. 

“So, it's a more complex piece than people realise.”

Rugby AU director of rugby Scott Johnson was previously in Scotland where overseas-based players are eligible for Test selection and South Africa recently won the Rugby World Cup with a host of players selected from overseas teams.

However, he said just because success can be found that way doesn’t mean it’s a one size fits all proposition.

“It shows it can be done, is it right for us? That's something we'll have to look at,” he said.

“The reality is for the first part we need to sign the younger players and get them to play the game that we want them to play, get them appropriately conditioned to play the game we want to play. 

“Our priority is to sign the younger ones first for an extensive period. In 5-6 years, if they've committed here, it may be a model we want to take up. 

“The reality is, though, we've got a younger group of players that is going to come through that is going to help us change the landscape of Australian rugby so for the large part I'd like them here.”

While often the focus with the law is on the international ramifications, Castle iterated the importance of ensuring Super Rugby franchises have strong squad,s something ostensibly boosted by keeping Australian players in Australia.

“The other important thing is it's not just about Wallabies success, it's about Super Rugby success and Super Rugby takes up five months of the year,” she said.

“Every rugby fan wants to see Super Rugby  teams be successful, they want their heroes playing in their Super Rugby team so it's a bigger conversation than just Wallabies success, it's about making sure we’ve got the right players playing within our Super Rugby franchises as well.”

The Wallabies review began earlier this month but there is no official timeline for when any recommendations will be set down.