Rugby

Wales scrumhalf distraught after new ruling

2017-10-17 10:30
Rhys Webb (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Ospreys scrumhalf Rhys Webb says he is 'very disappointed' that he will not be eligible to play for Wales when he joins Toulon next season.

A new rule brought in by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) means only players capped 60 or more times may be eligible for selection when playing their club rugby outside of the country.

British and Irish Lion Webb has played 28 times for Wales.

"It's a real blow," the 28-year-old told the Wales Online website.

"I am very disappointed at the news because I love playing for Wales. It means a huge amount to me.

"I didn't know the full implications when I agreed to join Toulon because the change in the selection policy came out after I signed."

Webb previously played for Wales at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level.

"I have given 10 years' service to the Ospreys and Welsh rugby and have picked up injuries along the way," he said. "I would have hoped that would have been taken into consideration.

"I still very much want to play for Wales this season and hope I can gain selection for the autumn international squad."

Players who are already plying their trade abroad will not be affected by the new rule.

However, players who have already agreed new contracts for the 2017-18 season will not be exempt from the new rule.

Webb is the most high-profile casualty of the WRU's change in selection policy and Wales coach Warren Gatland admits he is uncomfortable with the scrumhalf's situation.

"Unfortunately, it's something I'm not 100% comfortable with," Gatland told BBC Sport Wales.

"A policy's been agreed with the regions and the union, and Rhys has made a decision to sign a pre-agreement for Toulon for next season, which means he won't reach the criteria in terms of the number of caps to be selected for Wales.

"That's disappointing from my point of view and for Rhys.

"With the 60 caps, it's recognising players who've given a significant contribution to their regions and the national team.

"After that, they can make a decision - stay in Wales or some of them, as they come to the end of their career, maybe look at opportunities to play and experience a lifestyle change, and also maybe a significant financial reward for their services to Welsh rugby."

Read more on:    wales  |  rhys webb  |  rugby
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