England’s governing body, the RFU, are to push for the existing global residency rule to be extended from three years to five, meaning players not born in or with parentage from their adopted country must live in that nation for at least five years to qualify.
According to The Telegraph, the RFU’s chief executive is keen to see a change and an end to so-called ‘project players’, where a nation’s governing body keeps a non-qualifying player long enough for them to be eligible for national team selection:
“Our view will be, and this is subject to further discussion but it’s coming up soon, that a five-year qualification is the optimum position to be in,” said Ritchie.
“There are other countries who will take a different view, I think, and that’s up to them.”
The move comes after France’s FFR has imposed a new rule that sees only those players with French passports qualify for Les Bleus.
Countries are free to bring in their own residency qualification rules, with the three-year regulation being the minimum selection criterion set by World Rugby. England could bring in their own rules even if World Rugby decides not to make any changes to the current regulations.
Such a drive on the RFU’s part to extend the residency period to five years may be seen as counter-productive for England when the national team currently has Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes as well as Manu Tuilagi, recovering after his latest injury setback, on its books. All four players qualified via residency.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena