Rugby Australia reportedly set to review Test restrictions on overseas players

Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 10:29 AM
by AFP
All Blacks secure the Bledisloe Cup for another year with a dominant display at Eden Park in Bledisloe Two

Rugby Australia is reportedly considering loosening its rules barring most overseas-based players from representing the Wallabies after their latest defeat to New Zealand.

Under the so-called "Giteau's Law", introduced in 2015, foreign-based players can only pull on the Australia jersey if they have at least 60 Test caps and have played a minimum seven seasons at home in Super Rugby.

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But with an increasing number accepting lucrative contracts in Europe, coupled with Japanese clubs emerging as a financial powerhouse, the talent exodus is getting worse.

That has hamstrung Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, whose inexperienced team have fallen to the All Blacks twice this month, first by 33-25 then by a record 57-22.

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said it was time to re-examine the eligibility criteria to bring them more in line with other countries such as South Africa.

"They have access and the ability to choose their very best players no matter where they're playing," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"We do need to look into eligibility. I'm not saying it's going to be alpha and omega. But it will certainly bring a lot more experience and a lot more depth across the board."

Marinos was director of rugby in South Africa when they made the decision to scrap their overseas-based player rules and the world-champion Springboks have reaped the rewards.

"I'm not saying what worked in South Africa is the recipe for here. But we have to look at the eligibility piece to make sure we have the best players available to play week in, week out," he said.

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One option being considered, according to the newspaper, would see the number of Tests required to qualify cut to 15 or 20.

Another would be to allow Rennie to handpick more than the two foreign-based players he is currently allowed.

Either option could open the door to players such as Rory Arnold, Will Skelton, Tolu Latu, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, who currently do not meet the 60-Test rule.

But any change could also prove controversial, as it would probably weaken Australia's Super Rugby sides with more players heading overseas for better money.

"It's not the (whole) answer. But it's a part of a holistic view of the game and what we need to address," said Marinos.