Rugby

Wales change selection policy in bid to keep stars

2017-10-16 17:17
George North (AP)

London - Welsh rugby chiefs on Monday announced changes to their international selection policy in what they see as an attempt to stem the exodus of talent from the country.

Under the new rules, which take effect immediately, players based abroad with 60 caps or more will be eligible to represent Wales.

Until now, players based outside Wales required one of four wildcard picks to represent their country under the so-called "Gatland's Law".

That system was designed to keep players in Wales but it did not work, with a clutch of star names currently in the English Premiership including George North, Liam Williams, Jamie Roberts and Taulupe Faletau.

Dan Biggar will join Northampton next season and his current Wales and Ospreys half-back partner Rhys Webb will link up with French side Toulon.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips said Wales would now follow an Australian-style caps rule for selecting individuals at Test level.

No player with less than 60 caps will be selected for Wales if they ply their trade outside of the country.

An exception to the rule is call-ups for uncapped players currently contracted outside of Wales - to keep their eligibility a newly capped player will be required to return to Wales at the expiration of their deal.

"Whatever contract that a player is on today, that contract is protected," said Phillips.

"When that contract expires and if the player has fewer than 60 caps, they would not be eligible for selection. If they have 60 or more caps and they are outside Wales they would be.

"The existing policy worked to an extent, but it has not worked well enough. It was quite complicated. We want to make it simpler."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: "For me as a national coach, if I was being perfectly selfish, would I have a policy? No, I wouldn't. It is not about me or the national team, it is about what is the best thing for Welsh rugby.

"The best thing for Welsh rugby and for the union to support the regions is to try and keep the best players in Wales for as long as we possibly can. We know we are under pressure from market forces.

"This new policy is pretty much black and white."

Read more on:    wales  |  rugby
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