In the midst of a self-confessed “rebuild phase”, Rugby Australia will review its so-called “Giteau Law” after pledging to usher in an exciting new era for the Wallabies.
With a new coach coming and the chairman going, changes are afoot at RA and the next one may be to scrap the rule allowing overseas-based players with 60 Tests under their belt to remain eligible for national selection.
Michael Cheika had the controversial concept introduced in his second year at the helm in order to have Matt Giteau, primarily, and Drew Mitchell back for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
But it’s also led to an exodus of talent and means the likes of inspirational Wallabies vice-captain Samu Kerevi, now plying his trade in Japan, is unavailable because he’s only played 29 Tests.
Scott Johnson, RA’s director of rugby, said Australia’s governing body would revisit the Giteau Law upon the completion of a review into the Wallabies’ worst-ever World Cup campaign.
“It’s not just about thinking what it does for Rugby Australia, it’s about thinking about the changes that are happening in the wider international landscape, what other countries are doing around their rules, where competitions land and timing of those competitions,” Johnson said at Wednesday’s unveiling of New Zealander Dave Rennie as Wallabies coach.
South Africa won the World Cup last month with a stack of overseas-based players.
“It shows it can be done,” Johnson said.
“Is it right for us? That’s something we’ll have to look at.
“The reality is for the first part we need to sign the younger players and get them to play the game we want them to play, get them appropriately conditioned to play the game we want to play.
“Our priority is to sign the younger ones first for an extensive period. In five, six years, if they’ve committed here, it may be a model we want to take up.
“The reality is, though, we’ve got a younger group of players that is going to come through that is going to help us change the landscape of Australian rugby so for the large part I’d like them here.”
Australia certainly needs them here with Johnson, rather soberingly declaring the once-mighty Wallabies now a “top-eight” side.
RA chief Raelene Castle also pulled no punches when asked about the state of Australian rugby.
“In a rebuild phase. That’s the reality of it,” she said.
“We’ve had some really difficult times and there’s been lots of people working really hard, not just here at Rugby Australia but with our Super (Rugby) clubs, with our states and territories, our member unions.
“So there is significant growth happening across the country,” Castle said.
“There’s lots of positive stories to be told and we need to keep telling those stories and we also need the Wallabies to be successful.”