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Release of the captured: should Rugby Union’s international eligibility criteria be loosened?

Rugby Players
Friday, 12 June 2020 By Jonathan Collins

The election of Sir Bill Beaumont as chairman of World Rugby, after a close victory over Agustin Pichot, may herald significant changes for international rugby union worldwide. 

Mr. Beaumont, as part of his campaign, promised an independent governance review[1] which shall reportedly commence work under Sir Hugh Robertson, together with stating a willingness to revisit[2] and potentially revise international eligibility regulations.

Specifically, he has spoken about the possibility of allowing, under certain circumstances, players who have already played senior rugby for one nation to switch to another nation which they may be entitled to represent.

The purpose of this article is to consider:

  • The current position concerning “capture”;
  • The advent of “capturing” players;
  • The current exception to “capturing”;
  • The recent changes to international eligibility rules in rugby league;
  • The position of the Pacific Islands and South Africa;
  • The inherent problem with the concept of capture; and
  • The possible form and effect of changes to international eligibility regulations.

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Jonathan Collins

Jonathan Collins

Jonathan is an Irish-qualified solicitor, currently residing in Luxembourg. Jonathan played at Youth level for Munster Rugby, is mainly interested in rugby union and football, and is a lifelong Everton supporter.

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