Wales change selection policy for overseas-based players

Wales change selection policy for overseas-based players”

As with any change of policy, the new system is not retrospective and allows players now contracted outside of Wales to be selected during the term of their current deals.

And the new rules may render Toulon-bound scrum-half Rhys Webb ineligible.

"We will still do as much as possible to retain this talent, but it is conceded that this standard of player deserves to still be considered for selection and is potentially making an invaluable contribution to the national cause".

This change will not affect the likes of George North, Taulupe Faletau or Jamie Roberts, all of whom are contracted to Premiership clubs and boast more than 60 Wales caps.

Biggar now has 56 caps to his name and should cross the 60-cap barrier before he leaves the Ospreys at the end of the season to move to Franklin's Gardens, but the 28-cap Webb looks certain to miss the 2019 Rugby World Cup despite Toulon's claim last week that that "a fair deal has been found in good faith with regard to his national selection in the interest of both parties".

And Gloucester's Wales worldwide flanker Ross Moriarty could also be caught when his existing Gloucester contract expires, although not if he decides on a move to Wales.

"Wales head coach Warren Gatland added: "'For me as a national coach, if I was being perfectly selfish, would I have a policy?

'It is not about me or the national team, it is about what is the best thing for Welsh rugby?

"We have established a clear incentive for those players approaching the prime of their rugby playing careers to stay in Wales and it is now there in black and white for everyone to see". We know we are under pressure from market forces.

WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips outlined when the policy will come into action.

'Whatever contract that a player is in today that contract is protected, ' he said.

What is also important is that current contracts will be honoured, therefore, players such as Liam Williams, who left last summer, will still be eligible for selection, even though he has less than 60 caps. If they 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. "But we will want to use him moving forward in terms of who gets the job".

"It had so many clauses it in to try and cater for every eventuality".

"The best thing for Welsh rugby and for the Union to support the regions is how do we try and keep a number of the best players in Wales for as long as we possibly can".

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