Olympics provides eligibility loophole

The inclusion of sevens rugby at the 2016 Olympics will enable some players to change national allegiance ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

According to the IRB Handbook, Regulation 8, any player who has represented a national team, but has a passport for a second country, can switch allegiance during the 2014-15 Sevens World Series if there has been an 18-month period since their last national team appearance.

Isaia Toeava, for example, who played the last of his 36 Tests for the All Blacks in October 2011, could opt to play for Samoa, the country of his birth, while 14-Test England international Riki Flutey could switch allegiance back to New Zealand.

The loophole comes about because of the inclusion of rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and rules stating that to compete for a country you must have that nation's passport.

Once a player has made his sevens debut for a new national team in an Olympic event, like the 2014-15 World Series, IRB rules state that the player can then play any form of the game for his new country.

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

Post by

Simon Borchardt