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Many of the world’s best rugby players will not be playing in the 2011 World Cup, and it isn’t because of injury. It’s because the IRB (International Rugby Board) forbid it by limiting each player to just one country.
If the IRB wants a competitive World Cup, then they really are shooting themselves in the foot.
Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are begging to be World Cup contenders, but the current rules just won’t allow it.
A perfect example of this is Radike Samo, who will play number eight for the Reds in the Super Rugby Grand Final.
Samo was born and played under-19s rugby in Fiji, he also lived and played rugby in Australia over a long period. Calling Samo anything other than a Fijian-Australian would be absurd.
Samo played six Tests for Australia back in 2004 and so he won’t ever represent Fiji at a full international level, despite having clear as day links to the nation.
We live in a glorious world in 2011, a world where one could fly right around the globe in around 40 hours. This has led to many men and women identifying with more then one nation.
This is recognised in all kinds of different ways, most notably dual-citizenships.
Governments the world over are willing to recognise that people can identify with more than one nation, yet the IRB are not.
This is not saying a player should be allowed to switch between countries at will, but surely a system could be found.
How is it that the ability to play for more than one country in a lifetime has not ruined so many other sports?
I think, there is much to be said for the International Basketball Federation and their willingness to look at things on a case-by-case basis, this might see Kyrie Irving play for Australia making us more competitive and adding to the international game.
Perhaps, a more realistic system would be much closer to International Cricket Council’s, which says you can’t play for two nations within a set time period.
Another rule added to this could be that both nations can’t be tier one. This would ensure that for the most part, the rule would see great rugby players playing out their days for the nations of their ancestry and there is nothing wrong with that.
How great would it be to see James So’oialo run out with older brother and international rugby legend, Rodney, in the Samoan strip?
How much would being around a seasoned professional like Matt Dunning add to the Canadian team?
Do terrific players like Erik Lund and Isa Nacewa deserve to never play high level Test matches because of a mistake in their youth?
Surely, a balance between our current system and rugby league’s can be found. Rugby needs more nations to be competitive to further our tag of being a world game.
The IRB needs to make a ruling on this before the 2015 World Cup.
And the answer is obvious.