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Nationality in sport: A review of World Rugby’s new 5-year residency rule

Rugby player on field with ball in mist
Thursday, 25 May 2017 By Luke Sayer

On 10 May, World Rugby voted at its Council meeting in Kyoto, Japan, to increase the period of residency to become eligible for an international team from three years to a more stringent five years[1]. This amendment will be effective from 31 December 2020. The decision was made in an attempt to curtail the number of players representing countries for which they have no ancestral ties.

This article reviews the current World Rugby Regulations (the Regulations) in respect of residency; why a change was necessary; whether it will have any effect; and an analysis of the position generally.

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Written by

Luke Sayer

Luke Sayer

Luke is a lawyer specialising in litigation, both commercial and civil, regulatory matters, employment law and image rights with Carey Olsen, Guernsey. Luke has a wide range of experience from his five years as a qualified solicitor. Luke has a passion for sports law and is interested in most sports particularly rugby, football, athletics, and cricket. He previously represented England Students and Leicester Tigers at rugby union whilst attending the University of Nottingham.


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