Rugby changes eligibility rule

Tuesday May 23, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union

Cook Islands Rugby Union (CIRU) is a bit apprehensive of the new residency requirement set by World Rugby.


The international rugby union governing body earlier this month announced that it will extend the residency requirement to switch national teams from three to five years from the end of 2020.

This reform, World Rugby said, was aimed at protecting the “integrity and sanctity” of the international game.

The reform, which comes into effect from December 31, 2020, means players will have to reside for an extra two years in a country before becoming eligible to play for it.

CIRU chief executive officer Ben Koteka said given the pool of talented locally-based players, the new residency rule could possibly affect the formation of future national teams.

“Previously, we had three years qualification requirement before we could acquire the services of foreign players based and working in Rarotonga,” Koteka said.

“This new rule which comes into effect in 2020 will obviously prolong that process. We are a small nation with a limited pool of players based here to choose from.

“The player pool is probably going to shrink further after this new eligibility rule.”

The new residency requirement has been pushed by Argentine Agustin Pichot since he became World Rugby vice-chairman in 2015.

It was passed unanimously by the World Rugby Council at a meeting in Kyoto, Japan ahead of the 2019 World Cup draw, two weeks ago.

The council increased the required residency period for players from 36 to 60 months.

The additional residency criteria permits players who have 10 years of cumulative residency to be eligible

Also the council decided the unions may no longer nominate their under-20 team as their next senior national representative team effective January 1, 2018.

Sevens players will only be captured after representing their national sevens team; turned 20 on or before the date of participation; or represented at the Olympic Games or Rugby World Cup.  

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