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Rugby legend responds to Ardie Savea’s calls for eligibility law change for All Blacks

Te Ahikaa Trotman, Te Rito Cadet

2023 World Rugby player of the year Ardie Savea is calling for New Zealand Rugby to reconsider its stand opposing allowing All Blacks to play in overseas competitions before their callup.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

As it stands, players need to be contracted for the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders or the Highlanders to be eligible for All Black selection.

New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson also supports a change, last week asking NZR to keep an “open mind”.

But former All Blacks lock Dallas Seymour, who played three tests for the All Blacks but played plenty of games in the provincial competitions, says tweaking the laws may have a negative impact on club rugby in New Zealand.

“Nothing’s ever perfect in rugby but we’ve got a pretty good system here and there are opportunities for our top players to have sabbaticals overseas but it’s best for our players to be over here.”

Seymour talks about former Chiefs and Māori All Blacks representative James Lowe, who is now representing Ireland and the effect that he’s had on the provincial competition.

“Another question you have to ask is what happens to the provincial competition? There are guys like James Lowe who’s now in Ireland and is having a great career. I think it makes it difficult to pick players from overseas.”

“It might dismantle even further our club rugby scene and the pathways from provincial rugby through to the All Blacks, and that’s a debate we may need to have.”

Only 15 players out of 233 in the Springboks roster at last year’s Rugby World Cup win were active in the South Africa’s Currie Cup, the domestic competition.

“The country that’s proven it works, that it helps, is South Africa. The majority of their team play (offshore) and they come together and win the World Cup,” Savea argues.

Currently, the All Blacks number 8 is on sabbatical from NZR and is playing for the Kobe Steelers in Japan, and says the world game is growing and evolving.

“I think that’s the best thing about being out of New Zealand – I’m playing against guys from South Africa; Pacific Island boys that are from Tonga, Samoa; the Japanese brothers; Aussie brothers.

“I’m playing against a different variety of players, different styles, which has been refreshing and awesome whereas in New Zealand, you’re just playing against the New Zealand teams and Aussie teams.”

Hero Image: All Blacks at 2023 Rugby World Cup

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