After the recent news of Samu Kerevi’s proposed move to Japan for the 2020 season, questions have been raised as to whether the ‘Giteau’ rule needs to be reviewed just one more time before the World Cup.
Kerevi has been one of the most, and if not the most, in form and devastating Aussie players in this year’s Super Rugby season.
For those who don’t know, the law is specifically for players who play their rugby in overseas competitions, like the Gallagher Premiership or Top 14, and are up for Australian selection.
The law has two fundamental criteria: the player must have played a minimum of 60 Tests for Australia and must have also played at least seven Super Rugby seasons.
While the law does make experienced players available, like Matt Giteau himself in the 2015 World Cup where his experience helped give Australia a shot at the title, it does minimise the squad depth that our international side has.
A perfect example of this is Scott Fardy, he is a well known campaigner with the Aussie side and was a key player in their run to the 2015 grand final however his move to Leinster earlier this year has left him stranded on 39 Tests.
It can be argued that his move was based on Cheika’s decision to overlook the veteran in the last few seasons, Fardy’s last Test was in 2016 in November against France.
More unprecedented talent in the pool of ineligibility includes the likes of Will Skelton (Saracens), Sean McMahon (Suntory Sungoliath/Sunwolves – he has struggled with a hampering knee injury anyway), Joe Tomane (Leinster), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton) and even James O’Conner (Sale – although it would be a highly disputed return).
The main negative with abolishing this rule however would be the supposed slow decline in the standard of rugby we witness in Australia and, in general, Super Rugby.
European rugby and also Japanese rugby are in the spotlight when it comes to expensive salaries for players of varied experience while Super Rugby seems to lack player interest.
This could have a detrimental effects on Aussie rugby, especially with negative criticisms about Aussie rugby never far away and the phrase “Aussie rugby is dead” being tossed around so often.
What is needed now is a spark, something to re-ignite the flame that Australian rugby once had even if it means risking it all.
Yes, it’s risky but relaxing the Giteau Law for overseas players may give us the best opportunity to win a World Cup or even maybe The Bledisloe Cup.
Maybe these victories could once again prove to the Australian public that rugby is indeed the greatest game on earth.