Here is an official statement from World Rugby on how they view some key issues of player migration and an explanation of how the residency rules are changing. These points first appeared in our Great Migration investigation, published on 5 December.


Asked about academies set up in the Pacific and the need to monitor agents better, World Rugby gave us this statement for our Great Migration investigation:

“We are committed to delivering the best possible environment to ensure the future competitiveness of the Pacific Islands on the global stage. While we are investing more than £20m between 2016-19 in direct and indirect funding of the three unions, the support package is more than the money. We are partnering with Pacific Rugby Players (official union) to explore and deliver a framework of agent accreditation and regulation and importantly player education.

“On the matter of academies, we are implementing structures that provide a pathway for locally-based players through to the national team, which can be seen in our funding of the Fijian Drua in the Australia National Rugby Championship,
and tougher eligibility criteria.

“We will assist any union who believes there is activity in their nation detrimental to the development of local players for the national team.”

New Irish cap? Ex-Chief James Lowe can qualify in 2020


World Rugby voted to change the residency regulations in May – and these are the key points…

  • From 31 December 2020, the residency period for players wanting to qualify for the country in which they now live will be extended from 36 consecutive months to 60 consecutive months – ie, five years.
  • Anyone who has moved countries before the end of 2017 will fall under the three-year rule, because they
    may have signed contracts with a view to qualifying on residency before the Regulation 8 change.
  • Players can now also qualify on residency if they have lived in a country for ten years cumulatively. For example, they may have spent eight years living in England as a child, then played in England for another two years.
  • From January 2018, U20 teams can no longer be classed as a country’s ‘next senior national representative team’. That means playing U20 rugby for one nation won’t prevent you from playing for a different one at Test level.
  • Sevens players will only be ‘captured’ by a country (ie, unable to represent another nation) if a) they are 20 or older when representing the senior sevens team or b) they have reached the age of majority (this can differ depending on what country you’re from) when competing in an Olympics or Sevens World Cup.