Nearly quarter of players at Rugby World Cup represented countries they were not born in

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont, centre, chaired the Executive Board meeting in Buenos Aires ©World Rugby
 (Oct. 4) – World Rugby have set up a new working group to establish whether its rules on player eligibility are “fit for purpose”, they announced today.

The topic came to the fore during last year’s Rugby World Cup in England.

Statistics compiled at the start of the tournament showed that 135 players were not born in the country they represented – a total of almost 22 per cent.

The establishment of the new working group was revealed at the end of a meeting of the World Rugby Executive Board in Buenos Aires.

“The Executive Committee approved the immediate establishment of a working group to review Regulation 8 in its totality in order to determine whether the current regulation is fit for purpose,” the world governing body said.

Samoa had the most players at the World Cup not born in the squad, with 13 of their squad originally from New Zealand.

Tonga, meanwhile, had 12 and there 11 each for Wales, Scotland and Japan.

Argentina were the only competing nation not to include any players born outside the country.

New Zealand was the most represented nation at the World Cup, with 39 turning out for other nations than the All Blacks, while 10 different countries have South Africa-born players in their squads.

Wales had nine players who were in fact born in England.

Kane Thompson was one of 13 players who represented Samoa at last year's Rugby World Cup, even though he was born in New Zealand - one of 39 from that country who did not represent the All Blacks ©Getty Images

Kane Thompson was one of 13 players who represented Samoa at last year’s Rugby World Cup, even though he was born in New Zealand – one of 39 from that country who did not represent the All Blacks | Getty Images


At present, the rules governing player eligibility must satisfy one of seven stipulations, including the controversial residency rule, which allows players to represent countries where they have lived for three years.

The Executive Committee also approved the removal of Law 3.12(c) – temporary replacement, head injury replacement is removed with immediate effect in accordance with Bye-Law 12.2.

This is to enable the replacement player to take kicks at goal if required.

“Over the course of a highly-productive week of Committee and Board meetings, we have considered some important and pressing topics from player welfare, game growth and law trials to eligibility and preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

“Strong progress is being made, especially in the priority area of player welfare, and we must continue to ensure that as the sport continues to grow at record pace we ensure that it is as safe and enjoyable to play as possible.”

*Duncan Mackay is the editor of Awards include British Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, British News Story of the Year in 2004 and British Sports Internet Reporter of the Year in 2009. Mackay is one of Britain’s best-connected journalists and during the 16 years he worked at The Guardian and The Observer he regularly broke a number of major exclusive stories, including the news that British sprinter Dwain Chambers had tested positive for banned performance enhancing drugs.

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