World Rugby has voted to increase the required residency period to be eligible for international rugby from three to five years.

The sport’s global governing body approved the recommended extension at a council meeting held in Kyoto before the Rugby World Cup draw.

It is hoped that raising the level from 36 to 60 months will safeguard the playing resources of smaller nations – particularly the Pacific Island teams.

Current Scotland players who have benefited from the three year residency period are WP Nel, Josh Strauss and Tim Visser while Cornell du Preez has also earned caps via that route.

“This is an historic moment for the sport and a great step towards protecting the integrity, ethos and stature of international rugby,” World Rugby Vice-Chairman Agustin Pichot said.

 “National team representation is the reward for devoting your career and your rugby life to your nation.

“These amendments will ensure that the international arena is full of players devoted to their nation, who got there on merit.”

“This reform of Regulation 8 governing eligibility is an important and necessary step to protecting the integrity and credibility of international rugby,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said.

“This extension to the residency period within a forward-thinking reform package will ensure a close, credible and established link between a union and players, which is good for rugby and good for fans.

“I would like to thank my union colleagues for their support and in particular the leadership role that Agustin Pichot played in this very important process that has delivered an outcome that is good for the global game.”

A World Rugby statement added: “It was determined that regulation 8 was not in step with the modern game, did not provide an adequate framework to protect the integrity of the international game and does not provide a deterrent to player drain from emerging rugby nations.”

WP Nel and Josh Strauss are pictured by David Gibson/FOTOSPORT

‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the news and views from all areas of the game – and SCRUM 94 will be online soon

To subscribe for FREE click here