Scotland resist move to reform rugby residency rule

WP Nel qualified for Scotland through the three-year residency rule.  Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
WP Nel qualified for Scotland through the three-year residency rule. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
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Changes to rugby’s controversial “residency rule” are in the pipeline, with the game’s governing body keen to tighten up the current legislation, which critics claim makes a mockery of the international game.

Under current regulations, players who have yet to make an international appearance can play for a country after having lived there for three years. They require no bloodline connection to that nation through parents or grandparents.

World Rugby wants to increase the period of qualification to five years, with the more radical faction within the governing body keen to drive through the change as soon as possible, with an announcement possibly taking place as early as this month.

The quest for reform has been given momentum by the French Rugby Federation (FFR). Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR, revealed last month that in future France would select only players with a French passport. Laporte said the aim was to be “very careful about not impoverishing the Fijian, Georgian, Samoa and Tongan federations, otherwise it impoverishes the international game”.

It is understood that Australia are on board with reform plans and England, too, are believed to be shifting position to support change. Scotland, who have recruited the likes of WP Nel via the residency rule, are backing the status quo.