World Rugby has delayed the implementation of its new five-year residency rule for another 12 months due to the exceptional disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
World Rugby’s regulation 8 originally allowed players to play international rugby after living three years in their adopted country.
In May 2017 World Rugby voted to extend the residency period from three to five years, but it’s now emerged the original implementation date for World Rugby’s adjustment has been pushed back by another 12 months – from 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2021 – on ‘compassionate grounds’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, it was confirmed that World Rugby’s executive committee approved an adjustment to regulation 8 (eligibility) in July to combat the exceptional disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic on the necessary residency criteria for players wishing to qualify for a national union.
‘The residency criteria outlined in the regulation is due to increase from 36 consecutive months to 60 consecutive months on 31 December 2020. In order to be eligible on that basis, players must meet the residency requirement and have represented their union before the cut-off date,’ read the statement.
‘Due to the disruption to the international calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, playing opportunities have been significantly affected across the sport’s 127 member unions and eligible players may have been prevented from representing a union on the basis of 36 months residency by the scheduled cut-off date and would therefore automatically move into the 60-month requirement.
‘In light of these exceptional circumstances, the executive committee, having consulted with unions and international rugby players, determined it was appropriate to extend the 36-month residency requirement set out in regulation 8 to 31 December 2021.’
The executive committee also confirmed that a player must meet both the 36-month residency requirement and have represented the union on or before 31 December 2021, otherwise the player will fall under the 60-month rule.
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