World Rugby amends rule to allow players to switch national teams

International rugby players will be allowed to switch national teams from next year subject to certain criteria, the World Rugby Council announced on Wednesday.

The revised regulation will apply from Jan. 1, and a player must either be born in the country to which they wish to transfer or have a parent or grandparent born in that nation.

The player must also stand down from international rugby for a period of 36 months and may change unions only once, subject to approval by the World Rugby Regulations Committee.

“Approval of this landmark regulatory change is the culmination of detailed and widespread modelling and consultation across the game,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“We have listened to our membership and players and sought to update the regulation recognising the modern professional rugby environment without compromising the integrity of the international game.

“We believe this is the fairest way to implement progressive change that puts players first while also having the potential to support a growing, increasingly competitive international men’s and women’s game.”

International transfers are permitted in rugby sevens to allow players to participate in the Olympics.