South Africa to tighten overseas eligibility rules

Mar 3, 2017

SA Rugby has moved to tighten its eligibility rules for Springboks playing overseas, in a bid to safeguard the country’s young talent.

From July 1, only players with more than 30 Test caps will be available for selection for South Africa.

That means that the likes of Lionel Mapo, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch must return home after June’s Test series against France if they wish to continue their international careers.

“We are sending a message to young players that if they wish to play for the Springboks, then they must remain in South Africa,” Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said.

“But we have also retained flexibility for the coach to select exceptional players who may be based overseas provided they have a proven track record of 30 Tests for the Springboks.

“How to balance the need to select the strongest possible team against the challenges of having such a large number of players based overseas has been a subject of long debate in our game.

“We have made this change in what we believe are the best interests of the Springbok team but we will review it periodically in conjunction with the national coach.”

The majority of Springboks playing overseas — including Willie Le Roux, Francois Louw and JP Pietersen — will not be caught by the new rule.

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