World Rugby will prolong the implementation of its three-year residency rule for another 12 months due to the “exceptional disruption” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The extension comes after a World Rugby vote in May 2017 decided to extend the residency period from three to five years - a move welcomed by many in the game.
The residency rule allows a player to become eligible for another nation provided they have not represented the designated ‘senior’ representative team of a union where they were born.
The original cut-off date for World Rugby’s adjustment, marked for December 31, 2020, has been pushed back 12 months to December 31, 2021.
“The World Rugby Executive Committee approved an adjustment to regulation eight (eligibility) in July to combat the exceptional disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic on the necessary residency criteria for players wishing to qualify for a national union,” a World Rugby spokesman, told the Daily Telegraph.
“Currently, the residency criteria is due to increase from 36 months to 60 months on December 31, 2020. In order to be eligible on that basis, players must meet the residency requirement and have represented their union before the cut-off date.
“In light of the exceptional circumstances caused by the ongoing pandemic, the executive committee, having consulted with unions and International Rugby Players, determined it was appropriate to extend the extend the 36-month residency requirement set out in regulation eight to December 31, 2021.
“EXCO confirmed that a player must meet both the 36-month residency requirement and have represented the Union on or before December 31, 2021, otherwise the player will fall under the 60-month rule.”
The controversial move means Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman now qualifies for Scotland next summer, rather than 2023.