• NZR Chairman Brent Impey Bent on Shifting Eligibility Rules

    It is one thing to whinge when reality deals a shabby hand, but it seems disingenuous to whinge when said whinging is coming from the top.

    Yet, New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey took his sledge to World Rugby, saying essentially that the football governing body has bent its regulations to suit the likes of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

    Impey was expressing dissatisfaction at the way World Rugby deals with its Island Nations.

    His thrust seems to be toward relaxing eligibility rules, although he probably does not seek to see them relaxed in the manner Queensland employs in determining eligibility for the State of Origin series.

    Impey claims that northern hemisphere clubs pressure players from the Island Nations to abstain from making themselves available for international duties.

    Impey has a point; all the more so, as he has nothing to gain by supporting any rule change that would potentially threaten New Zealand rugby supremacy.

    NZR have lobbied unsuccessfully to get the votes needed from other World Rugby members and Impey did not mince words when he told Radio New Zealand, “I think you can point the finger straight at the likes of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England. These countries who, you look at them and you look at their teams and what they have done in terms of rules that suit themselves.”

    “I believe there should be eligibility rules which allow players who’ve played for tier 1 countries such as the All Blacks to go back after say, a year and play for their countries of origin,” he said, citing examples such as those of Charles Piutau and Steven Luatua, who quit New Zealand rugby at young ages, but were still unable to represent Tonga, in the case of Piutau, or Samoa for Luatua.

    The monster under the bed in the entire scenario is that many of the players from the Pacific Islands depend on their jobs with European clubs to support their families.