Residency rule, Stander retirement ‘makes mockery of the game’

Pacific Rugby Players Welfare chief executive and former player Dan Leo has questioned rugby residency rules following CJ Stander’s surprise retirement.

Stander on Tuesday announced that he would be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the current season to return to South Africa.

Still just 30 years old, Stander qualified to represent Ireland in 2016 after moving to Munster from the Vodacom Bulls in 2012 and recently made his 50th appearance against Scotland.

However, in an explosive tweet – which has since been deleted – former Samoa international Dan Leo said that Stander having the ability to retire to return to South Africa ‘makes a mockery of the game’ more than Pacific Island players who want to represent a second country in their career.

‘Congrats on a great career CJ,’ Leo wrote. ‘But in my mind, someone getting residency after three years, making a national team and then moving back home as soon as they retire makes a mockery of the game far more than Pacific Island heritage players wanting to turn out after a stand down period.’

Leo later clarified that this had nothing to do with Stander’s career and more to do with rugby’s residency rules, which will be extended from three to five years at the end of 2021.

The likes of Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa, who have both been capped by the All Blacks, are fighting to switch their allegiance to represent Tonga internationally.

Leo has been championing the rights of Pacific Island players and discussed the issue at length during his 2020 documentary ‘Oceans Apart: Greed, Betrayal and Pacific Island Rugby’.

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