On Tuesday, New Zealand Rugby revealed that there will be a new high-performance team that will assemble this year and undertake a mini-tour of Northern Hemisphere venues. The new side dubbed the 'All Blacks XV', will play three matches in the last weekend of October and first two weekends of November.
"The All Blacks XV will be our second-tier team below the All Blacks and made up New Zealand's 'next best' players," NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said at the confirmation of the new side and their fixtures in 2020.
He continued to say that it was a fantastic opportunity for players to build experience of international rugby and for others to prove themselves once again on the international stage and force their way back into the All Blacks squad.
What this means is that anyone who represents the All Blacks XV be would captured by New Zealand if they feature against another second-tier team or test side and would not be able to gain eligibility for another test side. So to clarify if the All Blacks XV play the Ireland Wolfhounds, all the players that feature in that game won't be able to represent another test side besides New Zealand or Ireland.
Had this been in place earlier, Bundee Aki could have represented the All Blacks XV against another second-tier team - before moving to Connacht - and would have not been able to become eligible for Ireland.
The move from New Zealand to create the All Blacks XV has already raised concerns over ramifications, particularly on Pacific Island players with Pacific Rugby Welfare's Twitter Account tweeting "PACIFIC ISLAND eligible players... BEWARE! playing for this second-tier New Zealand side or “NZ Barbarian” team will rule you out from ever playing for Samoa or Tonga or Fiji"
The move to create the All Blacks XV could see New Zealand capture numerous players a year without making them full All Blacks, therefore preventing other nations from signing 'project players' groomed in New Zealand in the hopes that they will represent them once they are eligible through residency - which is now 5 years in the country instead of three.
Capturing players using this method could stall the number of players heading abroad in order to play test rugby as they can't quite make the All Blacks' squad just yet but it also could see New Zealand Super Rugby franchise lose some of their top talents who have played for the All Blacks XV but still can't crack the top prize of an All Blacks' call up. There is somewhat of a growing trend, particularly in England, of clubs reserving their marquee player (a player whose salary is not included in the salary cap) for a player who won't be picked or is unlikely to be picked during international windows eg. Charles Piutau and Andre Esterhuizen (report).
A number of unions could follow New Zealand in re-launching or launching a designated second team to capture players. The likes of the England Saxons - who last played on tour to South Africa in 2016 - could make a return as too could the Irish Wolfhounds - who last played against England Saxons in 2015.
Both the Saxons and Wolfhounds are currently listed as the respective second-tier teams with the current laws of the game stating that the U20 representative side cannot be a designated second team. The unions could launch these sides to capture promising talents early and avoid situations like England-born Nick Tompkins playing for Wales.
Nick Tompkins represented England Saxons in 2016 against South Africa A in a game that did not tie him to England as South Africa A was not the designated second team but has since gone on to star for Wales in this year's Six Nations.
Shifting focus to South Africa, the current World Champions could do the same to protect some of their talent pool from representing other countries.
The issue for South Africa is similar to that of the Pacific Islanders with the mass exodus of players abroad, some of which uncapped or uncaptured by the Republic.
South Africa A is now set the as the designated second team of the Springboks and Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus could use the side to capture a number of talented players to the Republic.
The likes of Pierre Schoeman, who has expressed an interest in representing Scotland, would have likely played for the side as too would have Josh Strauss, WP Nel, CJ Standers amongst others had it been in effect earlier.
Despite all the speculation around capturing players, these kinds of fixtures will give numerous players, coaches and fans the opportunity to see and experience the future of their respective sides and test whether they could make the step up.
Johan Ackermann coached South Africa A before moving to Gloucester, Jim Mallinder coached an England XV side against the Barbarians last year with a number of those players involved learning a great deal from the games.
Heading up the All Blacks XV would be a great litmus test for Crusaders' head coach Scott Robertson, the same could be said of Dan McFarland, Leo Cullen and Ronan O'Gara for the Wolfhounds.
Players could, of course, turn down call ups to these representative sides if they are invited while others may regret their decision later on. Either way there numerous positive and negative ways to look to at the reawakening of the designated second international teams but the same could be said about them not being in existence at all and one cannot blame the likes of New Zealand for trying to protect and improve their talent pool.