A healthy dose of fate has seen Paul Willemse remain eligible to play for France despite winning the U20 World Championship with the Junior Boks in 2012, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The former Bulls lock joined Montpellier in 2015, and having served the three-year residential period, he is set to make his Test debut for France in the upcoming Six Nations.
The technicality surrounding Willemse’s eligibility has been largely overlooked, with the powerful forward having featured for South Africa’s designated ‘next senior national representative team’ in 2012.
Despite this fact, the regulations at that time stipulated that players would only be ‘tied’ to their home country if they had played against an opposing team that was also designated as that nation’s ‘second representative’ side.
As fate would have it, only France and Wales had their U20 sides listed as their next senior national representative teams in 2012. The Junior Boks did not play against either side during the U20 tournament that year.
Instead, the SA U20s played against England (England Saxons as their ‘second representative’ team), Italy (Italia Emergenti), Ireland (Irish Wolfhounds/formerly Ireland A), Argentina (Jaguares/Pampas XV) and New Zealand (New Zealand A).
Allan Dell and Braam Steyn, who also played for the SA U20 side in 2012, have subsequently gone on to feature for Scotland and Italy respectively.
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