Rugby Australia temporarily suspends Wallabies 60-cap rule

Rugby Australia has amended its eligibility rules for the Wallabies, allowing two overseas-based players who do not meet the 60-cap criteria to be selected.

The change will only be in place for the remainder of 2020 according to Aussie rugby bosses.

Wallabies 60-cap rule suspended by Rugby Australia

Rugby Australia interim chief Rob Clarke described the move as “a prudent and measured step” in response to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“(Coach) Dave (Rennie) will soon assemble his squad and they’re likely to remain in a ‘bubble’ for 10 weeks with no opportunity to call in replacements for injury due to the quarantined environment,” he said

“We are being quite clear that this addition is for this year only but that we will continue to review the entire policy from time to time, as required.”

Australia put the 60-cap rule in place in 2015. Under those rules, only overseas-based players with 60 Wallabies caps as well as seven years of service to Super Rugby in Australia can be considered for national selection. Prior to that decision, a player who moved overseas would forfeit their eligibility to play for the Wallabies.

The relaxation is a boost for new coach Rennie, who is expected to announce his inaugural squad to face the All Blacks in the coming days. Samu Kerevi, Rory Arnold, Tolu Latu and Christian Lealiifano are players who may benefit from the changes in rules.

“We now have the chance to select one or two players based overseas who don’t meet the current criteria and they’ll not only add some experience to our group but be able to guide our young players to help their development,” Rennie said. 

“We are also looking long term though. 

“We want to bring players back to play Super Rugby here in Australia, especially those who are passionate about playing for the Wallabies, get them excited about being in the environment again and this is a great way to encourage that.”

Championship up in the air

The Springboks had similar rules in place for South African players but scrapped the rule altogether in 2018, as Rassie Erasmus was keen to expand his available talent pool ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies are due to host the All Blacks on 10 and 17 October with the Rugby Championship tentatively scheduled to follow. However, nothing has been confirmed regarding the Southern Hemisphere’s Test rugby showpiece due to continued travel restrictions.

READ: Bledisloe Cup fixture moved from virus-hit Melbourne

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