Does World Rugby need a new process to handle dual-nationality player release disputes? Lessons from the Shields & Samu cases

Published 30 May 2018 | Authored by: Jonathan Collins

Recently, the issue of whether World Rugby (the governing body of rugby union) 1 could compel a national union to release a player to play international rugby union for the representative team of another national union appeared to be close to becoming the subject of a dispute between New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and World Rugby.

The matter was unusual as it concerned a player contracted to one national union (New Zealand), with the contractual intention of being available for international selection for New Zealand´s national team only (better known as the All Blacks), being potentially requested to be released to play international rugby union for England, despite not previously having played rugby union in England, or indeed represented the English national team.

The purpose of this article is to:

  • provide a summary of the matter;

  • review eligibility criteria for international rugby in the case of dual-qualified players; and

  • consider the possibility of such a matter arising again in the short to medium term and how any such dispute between World Rugby and a member union may be resolved.

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About the Author

Jonathan Collins

Jonathan Collins

Jonathan Collins is an Irish-qualified solictor, currently resident in Finland, who has previously worked for law firms in Ireland and Luxembourg.

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