The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has scrapped the so-called ‘Gatland’s Law’ – and this is bad news for star scrum-half Rhys Webb.
Gatland’s Law – or as WalesOnline puts it, the WRU Senior Players Selection Policy – was introduced by head coach Warren Gatland to keep Test stars playing in Wales and bar them from international Test matches if they played outside Wales.
WalesOnline says the law states that “only players who play in Wales will be eligible for selection to the national squad”.
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These rules changed today. Under the new system, stars playing outside Wales will only be available for international selection if they have won 60 caps or more. The rule change does not apply to players with less than 60 caps if they are already playing outside Wales.
One player who will be hit by the rule change is British & Irish Lions star Webb, who will join French side Toulon next season. Because he has won only 28 caps he will now miss out on Wales selection.
Fly-half Dan Biggar is another player who could soon be out of the Wales set-up. He’s currently on 56 appearances, but with a move to Northampton lined up next season he would need another four caps to remain in contention.
When asked about the change, WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips told ITV Sport: “Whatever contract that a player is in today, that contract is protected. When that contract expires and if the player has less than 60 caps, they would not be eligible for selection.
“If they have 60 or more caps and they are outside Wales they would be.”
He says the existing policy didn’t work well enough and was “quite complicated”.
The aim, he says, is to make it simpler. “We have tried to step back and say: ‘let’s try to simplify this’ make it understandable for players, for supporters and try and give each of the five entities [four regions and Wales] access to the players they need.”
Wales head coach Gatland said: “For me as a national coach, if I was being perfectly selfish, would I have a policy? No I wouldn’t. It is not about me or the national team, it is about what is the best thing for Welsh rugby?
He says the best thing is to try and keep the best players in Wales for “as long as we possibly can”. While being aware of pressure from market forces, he says the new policy is “pretty much black and white”.
On social media some Wales supporters are furious about a rule change that will see their “best player” Webb miss out on selection.
Sandra Loy called it a “big decision” by the WRU.
Webb has been thrown “under the bus” by the WRU, said one fan.
Rugby World magazine writer Paul Williams feels for Webb.
These fans were more sarcastic in their reply to the news...
But Rugby Studio claims Webb knew that the rule would be changed.
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