Here’s the lowdown on World Rugby’s Regulation 8, which governs players' international eligibility

It is an enormous talking point, players’ eligibility.

Since World Rugby approved eligibility amendment to allow national switch in 2021, we’ve seen some big changes changes. During the Six Nations, a lot were asking: Why do Scotland have so many dual qualified players in the Six Nations?

So if you’ve ever wondered what rugby’s international eligibility rules are, now we break down Regulation 8…

Which country can a player represent under eligibility rules?

There are four ways a player can be eligible to represent a country at international level. They are:

  1. They were born in the country.
  2. They have a parent or grandparent who was born in the country.
  3. They have lived in the country for 60 consecutive months to qualify on residency immediately before playing (this used to be 36, but changed ahead of 2022).
  4. They have completed ten years of cumulative residence in the country before playing.
What are rugby’s international eligibility rules?

Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes qualified for Wales on residency (Getty Images)

And as we’ve seen some come a cropper in recent years for picking players who have actually had a break in their residency period, it is worth noting this from World Rugby: “it is the responsibility of each Union to ensure that all Players it selects are properly eligible within the provisions of Regulation 8”.

It is also worth noting that World Rugby expect unions to keep accurate and complete lists of all players who have been captured by them.

Can a player switch nationalities after being capped?

Since January 2022, the eligibility rules changed so players who have already been capped have the ability to switch nations if they meet these two criteria:

  • Have served a stand-down period from international rugby for 36 months.
  • Were born in the country to which they wish to transfer or have a parent or grandparent born in that country.

When is a player ‘captured’ by a country?

Captured is the term used when a player becomes tied to one country and can no longer represent another nation on the international stage. This happens when a player plays for one of three teams:

  1. The senior 15-a-side national representative team of a union. This is quite simple and basically means playing in a Test match, eg England v Ireland in the Six Nations.
  2. The next senior 15-a-side national representative team of a union. This is where it gets slightly complicated as each union may have a different idea of what to nominate as their second team. It could be an A team.
  3. The senior national representative sevens team of a union where the player is aged 20 or older or, if at an Olympics or Sevens World Cup, the player has reached the age of majority (18).

Now, the above is a quick run-through – but as we all know, it can be a minefield out there!

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.