Only overseas-based Springboks with more than 30 Test caps will be eligible for selection in future, following a decision by the Executive Council of SA Rugby in Cape Town on Friday.
The policy will come into force from July 1, 2017, allowing players with fewer than 30 caps to return to South Africa should they wish to be considered for Springbok selection after the series against France in June.
The policy replaces the existing situation where any player eligible to play for South Africa could be picked at the discretion of the Springbok coach. The coach will meanwhile retain the right in a Rugby World Cup year to select any player he believes is essential to the campaign – regardless of number of caps.
“We are sending a message to young players that if they wish to play for the Springboks, then they must remain in South Africa,” said Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby.
“But we have also retained flexibility for the coach to select exceptional players who may be based overseas provided they have a proven track record of 30 Tests for the Springboks.
“How to balance the need to select the strongest possible team against the challenges of having such a large number of players based overseas has been a subject of long debate in our game.
“We have made this change in what we believe are the best interests of the Springbok team but we will review it periodically in conjunction with the national coach.”
Players with less than 30 Test caps for South Africa who were involved with the Springbok on last year's November tour include Steven Kitshoff (Bordeaux-Bègles) and Vincent Koch (Saracens).
Johan Goosen was another played involved with less than 30 caps, but he has since parted ways with Racing 92.
Cobus Reinach, who this week for signed for Northampton Saints, and Ulster back-row Marcell Coetzee (currently on 28 caps) would also be ineligible.