Residency Rule Conundrums

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The residency rule has come into huge contention in recent months, more so with extra players declaring that they want to play for their new found country. Lets take a look at how fair this is, and what should the pathway to becoming a resident of a nation be.



The current ruling of a players residency is regulated as a player who has played no senior rugby for another country and has lived there for three years, which allows anyone under these circumstances to play for their newly desired country.



JOSH STRAUSS- Born in South Africa. Joined Glasgow in 2012 and began training with Scotland‘s World Cup squad in 2015.

WP NEL- Another South African. Joined Edinburgh in 2012 and alongside Strauss, trained with Scotland’s World Cup squad.

JARED PAYNENew Zealand born, joined Ulster in 2011 and holds 16 caps for Ireland.

There would be many many more, however there just isn’t time to list them all here.



Now a players rights to where he wants to be a national of is a hot topic. Should they be allowed to agree to playing in that country’s league, and will live there for three or more years, and so deserves to qualify for that nation?

To many these ‘project players’ don’t face tough enough regulations into qualifying for their newly adopted country via the residency rule and it is a fair argument to make. The current three year residency isn’t quite long enough and perhaps the most logical and requested time length for the residency rule would be five years. This is a good length of time for young ‘child’ or ‘academy’ players who move in their childhood perhaps to the country, so they build upwards, but also it stops the project players coming in aged 20/21 and getting in for that country at their peak.

Combine this with a clause that, along with the five year residency rule, they must also go through some kind of educational system here, whether that be school, college, university or some other kind of educational set-up. This would prove that the player is well and truly a national now in their chosen country and not just there to get a better national rugby side.

Whether this is ethical on a player moving to another country that’s not their birth place and declaring their want to play for them is another thing.

The residency rule can also be applied if a player has parents or grandparents from that country, and so they can qualify for nationality that way. This is a much better way of qualifying for a country as it shows that player has lineage and heritage in that culture or country.



Depending on how you judge the success of this policy it could be both successful and unsuccessful.

If you look at Wales, for example, there are a few players born outside of Wales, however through qualification they can play for the national team and rightly so in the majority of fans views. Players such as Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate and George North are all born on foreign soil, but very much qualify through various rulings.

These three players are just a few of many players worldwide that have contributed to their new countries success in many ways. This would mean that surely for their country the residency rule has been of great success. Nevertheless, this becomes a farce if they have represented another country at a junior level and then have created ‘dual nationality’ throughout their career.

If you argue that younger home grown talent is being pushed out because of these players coming in, then it isn’t such a success. This, though, is not truly the case for most of the players as they do not take over the place of any youngster or push in front of others in the line for a cap. Instead it creates top competition for the jersey.

The rule needs to be reformed as it is currently being a bit lenient, especially towards those already in adulthood and playing top rugby who just want to move to a big nation for a better chance of silverware or fame. That is why it should go towards being five years or at least have a player go through UK educational facilities.

In a recent poll, when asked “are the residency rules in place in rugby, good enough?” the results showed overwhelmingly in favour of reforming the current laws. 90% were in favour of reforming rules, leaving the minority 10% against changing them.

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