Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

29th October 2012 11:30

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Pick a country, any country!

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the three-year rule, the need for a single global disciplinary body and the coming around of the gone around...

We are not entirely sure what has suddenly brought the issue to prominence as it's been a bugbear for some for yonks, but the issue of the three-year residency rule now needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency.

England's call-up of Mako Vunipola appears to have finally cracked the ring-pull on the can of worms, but there have been disgruntled utterings for donkey's years about New Zealand's tribal gathering, as well as Australia's.

The English would appear to have been the most brazen about it all, should the accusations levelled at them by Fiji coach Inoke Mali prove to be founded. The French are supposedly not far behind.

Most disturbing is the accusation that the unions and clubs are luring teenagers across the globe to their academies accusations levelled at them by Fiji coach Inoke Mali; and with the networks among the ranks of the pros, not to mention the money available, growing by the day, the whole process is not going to stop unless better regulated.

But the question always to be asked is not if the three-year rule could be altered to protect the interests of tier two - we know the answer to that one and always have - but how.

Well, we certainly think you could change the rule to only permit people allowed passports of their adopted country to play for that country. That way you stop people heading over in their early twenties - such as Mouritz Botha - and using up the spots in a national squad to which they simply have no right to, spots for which born citizens would give their eye teeth to be filling.

However, it would also allow the flexibility for someone like Toby Faletau, who has been in Wales since the age of seven and is now naturalised, to play for the country he has grown up in. Obviously there's a conflict of interest for people born in a country but who have never lived there, but maybe here you could invoke a three-year residency clause?

That's one suggestion. We are sure there are others. But one thing's for sure, when you have - as Male claims - people born to parents of country A, in country A, and growing up in country A all with realisable ambitions of playing for country B, you have a system which is doing nothing whatsoever to protect the interests of the smaller nations who work hard to.

You also have national identities for sale, naive teenagers being whisked across the world to a future far from certain and places in a national squad at the very highest level up for sale rather than for privilege. We don't think that is what international rugby should be all about...


Both Andy Hazell and Sisa Koyamaibole are going to be weighing up their actions this week after copping 14 and 12-week bans respectively for their transgressions in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

But it's barely imaginable that biting is given a lesser punishment than Hazell's furious assault on a Mont-de-Marsan player. Hazell lost control for sure, but biting someone is just savagery - surely given the dangers involved in a human bite, that's is almost as serious as gouging?

The disciplinary inconsistency problem is not going to go away until someone wakes up and realises that there needs to be some form of single independent body examining these cases globally. Admittedly, there would be logistical problems in getting players to hearings, but these are also the days of Skype and a myriad of other media creating conference calls.

In one fell swoop you rid the disciplinary verdicts of the obvious manoeuvres which frequently contrive to allow miscreants to be available for all their important games, you also let players know a precise and consistent precedent, something currently glaringly absent from the system...


It was amusing listening to the wailing from Premier Rugby Chief Mark McCafferty this week as he twigged that there had been a meeting of the nations and clubs involved in the ERC restructuring wrangle without his presence.

"It was a flawed attempt to divide and rule and it failed," said McCafferty.

And your television deal for a tournament not sanctioned by anyone present at this offensive secret meeting you are so upset about was what, precisely?

Loose pass compiled by Richard Anderson

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