Residency is definitely one topic which splits Rugby fans around the world; bringing either joy or frustration to all. At the minute, the residency rule sees players fit to play for a nation if they have spent more than 3 years there, but the RFU back the idea that this should be raised to around 5 years to tackle the problem of the ‘player drain’.
Fans of the bigger nations such as England and Ireland will most likely not be too fond of the possible change, as it would make it more difficult for them to snatch up the latest budding talent from smaller nations such as Fiji and Samoa. This will hopefully stop the cycle of players fleeing their home nation for a chance at the big time, but it is not certain, as although changes are being made, money is still a great temptation to most, especially if they come from a poor background, and money will always be in the game.
On the other hand, if this goes through the smaller nations will be jumping for joy as their chances of retaining their talent will grow, meaning their country’s Rugby potential can truly shine through. If the plan has the intended effect, we could see the international side of the game shift in terms of domination, with the less recognised nations rising to challenge the top dogs.
The plan has been backed by many in the RFU who; “…feel that an increase from three to five years is absolutely the route to go down and that’s what we’d support,” said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie to The Times. This is good to hear as it shows the RFU don’t just have the bigger nations in mind, but are in fact looking to benefit the game as a whole.
If this change is successful, there is a good possibility that nations graced with natural talent could in fact keep it and dominate the game in years to come, as the bigger nations begin to lose their adopted talent.