RFU may impose five-year residency rule on England

Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni
Nathan Hughes (left) and Semesa Rokoduguni were both born in Fiji but played for England last year

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) may impose a five-year residency rule on England if World Rugby fails to increase the existing eligibility level.

A player currently becomes eligible when they have lived in a country for three years.

But a campaign led by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is seeking to raise the level by a further 24 months.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie says it is "absolutely the route to go down".

He added: "In an ideal world there would be universality of regulation and there's a helpful way of dealing with this, and that's by moving the World Rugby regulation from three to five years."

Last autumn, England gave starts to Fiji-born Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni, who had qualified for Eddie Jones' side having lived in England for three years.

An extension to the requirement would mean Auckland-born Denny Solomona would have to wait significantly longer to qualify for England, whereas under the current laws Sale's former rugby league winger becomes available in August.

France have declared they will only select players who hold a French passport in the hope it will reverse the national team's reliance on overseas-born players.

The sport's global governing body will vote on whether to change the rule at its council meeting in May.

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