Monday 20 November 2017

The controversial rule changes ... and what they will mean

These are the key changes:

1 One non-Irish eligible (NIE) player only in each of the 15 field positions across the provinces of Leinster, Munster and Ulster, ie, one foreign player allowed across all three teams per position.

This is the most contentious of the proposed changes.

It means a province will have to pull out of a deal to bring in a player because a provincial rival already has an NIE in this position.

2 For the 2013/14 season and onwards, for any given position involving a contracted NIE player, a province will not be permitted to renew that NIE player's contractor or bring in a new NIE player into that same position in its squad.

This guideline is particularly bad for Leinster. Provinces will now lose their prized foreign player at the end of their three-year contract and when that player is forced to leave he cannot be replaced by another foreign import.

For Leinster this will mean that fans' favourite Isa Nacewa must leave after his contract expires and an Irish replacement must be found.

3 All future provincial injury replacement players must be eligible for selection for Ireland. This season Ulster replaced the injured New Zealander Jared Payne by signing former South African international Stefan Terblanche on a short-term contract, even though their academy has a number of exciting backs. From 2013/14 onwards injury replacements must be eligible to be selected by Declan Kidney.

4All future provincial non-Irish eligible player contracts will be position specific.

This will rule out provinces going for players who are versatile and can play in a number of positions.

Isa Nacewa can play in any position in the Leinster back-line and a similar situation existed in Munster last season when Paul Warwick slotted in anywhere for the reds.

Under the new rules, if Joe Schmidt wants to play Nacewa at full-back or out-half (he is registered as a winger) he will have to justify himself to the IRFU and prove that there is no credible Irish alternative.

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