ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
REGISTER
LOGIN
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
Thursday Nov 25, 2021

New eligibility rules could see Israel Folau play Test rugby again, and in RWC 2023

New eligibility rules passed by World Rugby could open the way for the controversial Israel Folau to make his return to the international game with Tonga.

ADVERTISEMENT

The world governing body approved a major amendment to their eligibility policy on Wednesday which will allow players to switch countries more easily from next January.

It looks set to pave the path for the likes of Folau, one of the Wallabies’ most outstanding backs who was sacked by Australia over homophobic social media posts, to launch a second international career thanks to his Tongan heritage.

And the move could prove a huge boost for developing rugby nations – particularly the Pacific Island sides Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji – in time for the 2023 World Cup in France.

READ MORE: Players are now allowed to switch nations to country of birth, approved by World Rugby

Former Wallabies No 8 Toutai Kefu, now Tonga’s coach, was reported as saying last week that he had talked to Folau and the 32-year-old was keen to join the islanders’ fold.

Currently, internationals aren’t eligible to play for a second nation unless they stand down from Test rugby for three years and play sevens for their second country in an Olympic qualifying event.

But under the amended rules, as long as the three-year break is still met, players can switch nations from January 1 if they, or a parent or grandparent, were born in the country they now wish to represent.

In Folau’s case, he hasn’t competed internationally since playing his 73rd and last Test for the Wallabies against England at Twickenham, exactly three years ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

After January 1, any player meeting the criteria can make an immediate transfer application.

The move could, in theory, be a game-changer for the Pacific Islands with the amendment meaning that, as well as Folau, New Zealand luminaries like Charles Piutau, who has 17 All Blacks caps, George Moala and Vaea Fifita could play for them.

Samoa could be bolstered by former All Blacks too with former fly-half Lima Sopoaga, Steven Luatua, Julian Savea, and Denny Solomona all being in the frame for a new international allegiance.

WATCH: The Steven Luatua Quarterback Lineout throw against Australia

England powerhouses Billy and Mako Vunipola could end up playing for Tonga in 2024, while star centre/wing Manu Tuilagi would be able to play for Samoa down the line.

“We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s not been easy to switch international allegiance, with only a handful of players taking advantage of the Olympic loophole since it was introduced before the debut of rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Former Wallabies duo Lopeti Timani and Cooper Vuna became eligible for Tonga in recent years, with the former having made his debut for the Ikale Tahi against England earlier this month after a dozen Tests for Australia.

LATEST RD BLITZ CONTENT:

Related Articles

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    Players are now allowed to switch nations...

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    'Scumbag' Lavanini prompts tongue lashing...

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Springboks extend condolences as former Test...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 1 HOUR AGO

    WATCH: Incredible headed try is dominating the internet

  • 23 HOURS AGO

    WATCH: Rob Kearney career highlights ahead of Baa-Baas bow out

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Japan use 50:22 law variation to score excellent try against Scotland

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: Two classic tries by Wales nemesis Kurtley Beale ahead of Cardiff return

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Career highlights of Ugo Monye reminds fans just how dangerous he really was

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 1 DAY AGO

    WATCH: Every angle of Stuart Hogg's naughty trip during Exeter win

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Duncan McRae reveals his side to horrendous O'Gara punch-up on 2001 Lions tour

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Re-live Etzebeth's HUGE hit on Finn Russell last weekend

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Three week ban after breakdown shoulder to head gets spotted by TMO

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Fiji winger cops five-week ban for Williams head contact

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 1 HOUR AGO

    WATCH: Incredible headed try is dominating the internet

  • 22 HOURS AGO

    Brilliant video demonstrates the flawless communication skills of Luke Pearce

  • 23 HOURS AGO

    WATCH: Rob Kearney career highlights ahead of Baa-Baas bow out

  • 1 DAY AGO

    WATCH: Every angle of Stuart Hogg's naughty trip during Exeter win

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    Tuilagi faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines after injury 6 minutes into win

View All

Funnies

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Lowe lets loose on critics in brilliant interview after EPIC All Blacks win

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Jarvo69 strikes again before Japan v Ireland clash

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Romain Poite's unique wit will be missed when he retires from Test rugby

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    JOURNEY OF JARVO69: Pitch invader makes headlines with outrageous All Blacks stunt

  • 8 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Erasmus celebrates Boks win over All Blacks in his UNDERWEAR

View All

Amateur

  • 56 WEEKS AGO

    Viral video of Scottish club brawl goes down a storm with rugby community

  • 93 WEEKS AGO

    RUGBYDUMP BLITZ: This Best of the Week round up is sure to entertain you

  • 93 WEEKS AGO

    RD BLITZ - Disaster, just when it looked so promising...

  • 93 WEEKS AGO

    That glorious moment that will live on forever, like it or not

  • 93 WEEKS AGO

    RD Blitz - PROP'S Lionel Messi wizardy creates incredible try

View All

Player Features

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    New Tongan Thor montage is five minutes of mesmerising hits and skills

  • 18 WEEKS AGO

    A deeper look at Jason Robinson's incredible path to the top

  • 40 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bumping off tacklers and taking high balls, Rob Kearney had an impressive Super Rugby debut

  • 45 WEEKS AGO

    Brian Moore on money in modern rugby and how it should never be compared to 'outlier' football

  • 46 WEEKS AGO

    Tuisova's wrecking ball montage will make you grateful you never made it as a pro

View All