Tomas Francis: Wales and Ospreys prop says 60-cap rule is working

Tomas Francis has played 57 internationals for Wales since making his debut in 2015
Tomas Francis has played 57 internationals for Wales since making his debut in 2015

New Ospreys prop Tomas Francis says the Welsh Rugby Union's 60-cap rule is working following his move from Exeter.

Francis had to leave left Exeter at the end of his contract if he wanted to keep playing for Wales because he had not played 60 internationals.

He was only three short of the target having won 57 caps.

"It does not matter what I think about it (the rule) but it's worked," said Francis. "If you have a rule you have to stick to it. It's not up to me."

Playing for a team outside Wales renders players ineligible to play for Wayne Pivac's side unless they have won 60 caps or more, due to a rule created in 2017 called the Senior Player Selection Policy.

Francis was affected when his Exeter deal finished in the summer of 2021, so he moved to Ospreys where he will make his competitive debut against Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday in the opening weekend of the United Rugby Championship.

He has followed the likes of Ross Moriarty, Jonah Holmes and Will Rowlands who have come from England to Wales to play regional rugby to keep their international ambitions alive.

The rule allows Pivac to have access to his Welsh-based players, with the individuals at English clubs unavailable for matches outside World Rugby's international window - including the 30 October game against world number ones New Zealand.

"In the fallow weeks, Wayne has the squad to train with and he does not have as many boys going back (to English clubs) as he used to and hopefully in time you will see the benefit with the Welsh regions," Francis said.

"You have seen over the last few years people have come back and hopefully it helps."

'I owe my career to Exeter'

Francis enjoyed a glittering career at Exeter and hopes he can now help Ospreys' progression.

"I owe my career to Exeter and Rob Baxter, he picked me up from the Championship and gave me seven years," said Francis.

"In my first full season I played for Wales and went to six Premiership finals and finally got to win. I had a great time.

"To be in one place for a long time you can get stuck in your ways and I saw this as a fresh challenge and a way to progress myself, and hopefully see this team grow as well.

"It's exciting to be at a new club and my first season in a new league and there is a good buzz about the place.

"Myself and the wife are expecting a child in the next eight weeks, so it's exciting for the next part of my journey."

Francis says former Wales prop Duncan Jones, a coach under Ospreys boss Toby Booth, was integral in his decision to sign.

"I met him in the Principality Stadium and the first thing he told me was how bad I was. He showed me the worst parts of my game and that made me want to sign for Ospreys," said Francis.

"He is one of the reasons I have signed. It was similar to what Rob Baxter did at Exeter, he showed me the way. They have shown me what I need to work on and that excites me.

"Duncan is a top bloke. He is a joker but will also tell you straight what you need to do, so he has that balance."

Francis has played in two World Cups and won a Grand Slam and two Six Nations titles but believes there is more to come.

"I am only seven years into my career, I started late and I have a lot of ambitions still," added Francis.

"I want to try and win silverware here after coming into a new league and want to continue to play at the highest level I can.

"I am not even half at the potential I can be in my eyes and am nowhere near the best rugby player I can be."

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