Former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman has spoken out against players being barred from test rugby on account of the club they represent.
Hayman retired from the professional game last weekend by captaining French club Toulon to their third consecutive European title. The French club defeated Clermont at Twickenham by 24 points to 18 in a Leigh Halfpenny inspired masterclass.
Hayman however was not keen to leave before having his say on a current hot topic in world rugby. Specifically targeting Rugby Unions in New Zealand and England, which stipulate players must perform on home soil to be eligible for test selection, the Toulon captain highlighted the absurd nature of the restrictions in the professional era.
“The sooner that rugby gets to grips with the fact it’s a professional game and players move around the better for everyone,” Hayman said.
“Players would then have more choice to play where they want, which they ought to have.
“Players shouldn’t be restricted by not being able to move countries because they won’t get selected for their national team.
“Those kinds of decisions restrict player movement, and I don’t think that should happen.
“Players should be able to come and go to whichever country they like, and still be available for their national team.”
Hayman moved to Europe after the 2007 World Cup. Walking away from his international career with the All Blacks, he went on to represent Newcastle and Toulon.
His departure left the All Blacks deprived of one of the most recognised tightheads in world rugby simply because he was now ineligible for international selection.
The Australian rugby union recently relaxed their rules in order to allow older players to still be involved in the national team as they sought to earn a higher salary at richer foreign clubs.
The discussion is now circling around England’s Steffon Armitage who, at present, is ineligible to be selected for this year’s World Cup despite his incredible form for Toulon.
“I think Steffon Armitage definitely deserves to go to the World Cup this year with England,” said Hayman who was speaking with Press Association Sport.
“He was European Player of the Year last year and he’s made the shortlist again this year.
“It’s not playing ability that’s stopping him making the squad, it’s a political decision.”
The unions that demand an attachment to home as a prerequisite for selection is now down to just two: England and New Zealand.
With New Zealand rugby in particular set to be decimated after this year’s World Cup as the departure of talent is likely to sky rocket, it seems like a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, for this absurd selection restriction to be cast into the annals of history.