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ARU endorses foreign player inclusion for Super 14


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Australian teams can each recruit up to two foreign players for next year’s Super 14 under a policy change endorsed today by the ARU Board in Sydney.

The nine-man Board accepted a management recommendation to lift the ban that has prevented teams from contracting any player ineligible for Qantas Wallabies selection.

There are, however, conditions attached to the relaxation of the Foreign Player Policy.

Provinces will be allowed to sign one ‘marquee’ foreigner ‘ an international who can never qualify for Australian selection because of an IRB regulation that limits players to one country representation throughout their careers.

The Australian Provinces will also be able to contract a second ‘developing’ foreign player who has yet to represent his native country at Test, Sevens or A-team level and could qualify for the Qantas Wallabies after three years of consecutive residency, as per IRB regulations.

If a Province decides not to recruit an established overseas international, it can sign two development players.

However, the signing of two overseas Test/Sevens/A-team players will not be permitted.

Restrictions will also apply to the contract period for a foreign star, with the overseas Test/Sevens/A-team player limited to a two-year stint at any one team.

Super Rugby teams wanting to recruit any foreign player will need to make an application to ARU before proceeding.

This process will ensure ARU’s development plans and programs are protected and enhanced by any recruitment.

‘There is no doubt the injection of world class foreign players will create added interest in the Super Rugby competition,’ said ARU chairman Peter McGrath.

‘We’re also confident overseas players will be excited about the potential opportunities.

‘It will not stop foreign Test players continuing their international careers outside Australia.

‘We will always protect the sanctity of Regulation 9 which gives a national body first call on their eligible players.

‘However, the idea that marquee players might want to come to Australia is something we should allow our Provincial teams to explore.

‘French flyhalf Frederic Michalak played with the Sharks in South Africa this year.

‘Likewise if there are talented young players in other countries who would like to pursue their Rugby dreams in Australia and one day play for the Qantas Wallabies, then this policy change will also open the door to them.’

ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said there were precedents for foreigners playing Super Rugby with Australian teams.

‘Patricio Noriega played Test Rugby for Argentina before he joined the Brumbies in the early years of professionalism and Tiaan Strauss was a Springboks captain before heading to Australia and eventually playing for the NSW Waratahs,’ he said.

‘That was back in the 1990’s when players could represent a second country once they served three years of residency.

‘IRB regulations no longer allow overseas Test players that same opportunity.

‘As a result, we have had the doors locked to overseas players for several years.

‘However, we have increased our Super Rugby footprint from three to four teams in the past couple of seasons.

‘Moving forward we are also looking to further expand Super Rugby in partnership with South Africa and New Zealand and to generate further interest in what we believe is the best competition of its kind in the world.

‘Therefore, the conditions are right to relax the prohibition on foreign players.’

* IN response to recent speculation the ARU Board has also re confirmed its policy not to consider for Qantas Wallabies selection any player based overseas.

The Board was adamant it would not be in Australian Rugby’s best interests to change the existing policy.

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