RWC: Over 20 per cent of players not born in country
Samoa had the most, 13 of their squad born in New Zealand, with Tonga not far behind
Richardt Strauss is one of five Irish players, not born in the country. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The pool stages may be over but the debate over player eligibility at the Rugby World Cup looks likely to rumble on ahead of the next tournament in 2019.
Statistics compiled at the start of the tournament by website Americas Rugby News showed that 135 players were not born in the country they represented - a total of almost 22 per cent.
Samoa had the most, with 13 of their squad born in New Zealand, while Tonga were not far behind with 12 and 11 each for Wales, Scotland and Japan. Argentina, who will face Ireland in the quarter-finals, are the only competing nation not to boast players born outside the country.
Unsurprisingly, New Zealand is the most represented nation at the World Cup, with 39 turning out for other nations than the All Blacks, while 10 different countries have South Africa-born players in their squads. Wales, who will face the Springboks in the quarter-finals courtesy of beating England at Twickenham, have nine players who were in fact born in England.
At present, the rules governing player eligibility must satisfy one of seven stipulations, including the controversial residency rule, which allows players to represent countries where they have lived for just three years.
Before the tournament, World Rugby’s chief executive Brett Gosper said officials were preparing to review the legislations ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
“I think obviously there is a concentration of club wealth in the northern hemisphere, there’s no question that the salaries are very high in France and in England and it’s very tempting for players to ply their trade in the northern hemisphere,” Gosper said.
“When that (rule) was determined, I don’t think there was quite the flow of players in international movement that it’s become in recent years, through Europe and Japan, and so on. So maybe it’s time to take a look at that, and see if that’s correct or some adjustment needs to be made.”
Foreign-born players at Rugby World Cup -
13: Samoa; 12: Tonga; 11: Wales, Scotland and Japan; 10: France; 6: Australia, Italy, USA; 5: Canada, Ireland, New Zealand; 4: Romania; 3: England, Fiji; 2: Namibia; 1: Georgia, South Africa, Uruguay; 0: Argentina.
The five Irish players are:
Jared Payne - New Zealand (three caps with NZ Under-21s)
Richardt Strauss - South Afirca (an Under-19 World Championship winner with South Africa)
NathanWhite - New Zealand (like Payne and Strauss qualifies for Ireland via the three-year residency rule)
Jamie Heaslip - Israel (his father was stationed there with the UN)
Jordi Murphy - Barcelona (lived there with his family until the age of nine)