11 May 2017

Sport: World Rugby law changes aim to stop poaching

12:30 pm on 11 May 2017

World Rugby has changed international eligibility rules in the hope it will stop the recruitment of players from smaller nations like in the Pacific, to larger, wealthier countries.

The main change sees the residency requirement a player must undergo before representing a country increase from three years to five years.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said the reform is an important and necessary step to protect the integrity and credibility of international rugby.

World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont, (left), and Vice-Chair Agustin Pichot

World Rugby Chair Bill Beaumont, (left), and Vice-Chair Agustin Pichot Photo: Photosport

Vice Chairman Agustín Pichot welcomed the outcome and told the World Rugby website it is an historic moment for the sport.

"National team representation is the reward for devoting your career, your rugby life, to your nation and these amendments will ensure that the international arena is full of players devoted to their nation, who got there on merit," he said.

"I think it is something that is really good for the shape of the international game.

"There were two main things that we wanted to address. The most important thing was the international game," Pichot said.

He said it didn't feel right that anyone could come into a country for just a couple of years and just sing the national anthem or represent the jersey.

"We though that was a little bit confusing".

Pichot also hoped it would put an end to top talent being plucked from smaller nations.

"For the smaller nations the players were picked as project players.

"Just because a country has more money or more power they could go to countries like Fiji or some parts of South Africa and just take the players on an economical advantage and just play for the national team," he said.

"I think that is wrong. That means you are taking advantage of the weaker countries and that is completely wrong."

The change will come into effect at the end of 2020.