Unions and professional leagues have reaffirmed their commitment to work with the International Rugby Board to ensure that the best players are made available for their country if selected for international duty under IRB Regulation 9.
Representatives from the Pacific Islands, Rugby Football Union, Fédération Française de Rugby, Premiership Rugby Limited, Ligue Nationale de Rugby and International Rugby Players’ Association joined the IRB in London this week to evaluate the current landscape, identify issues and suggest potential strategies to collectively support the regulation.
Under Regulation 9, clubs are obliged to facilitate release during specific and clearly defined competition windows during the calendar year without financial or contractual impediment. However, during a highly positive discussion, all representatives agreed that more can be done to ensure that the pre-eminence of the international Game is observed by ensuring the best players are available for national selection.
Headed by IRB Regulations Committee Chairman Bob Latham, the group reaffirmed its commitment to combating the issues and further exploring strategies in the key identified areas of player, club and Union education, squad announcement, contractual obligations, including insurance, and non-compliance sanctions. These will be progressed under the guidance of the IRB Regulations Committee.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The principle of player release is at the very heart of the integrity of the international Game for the IRB and its 118 national Member Unions and players should not in any way be incentivised to forego representing their country if selected."
"I would like to thank all the representatives for their strong contributions and I am delighted that we have a collective commitment to identifying a tangible way forward to ensuring adherence to Regulation 9 and enabling the best players from all countries to continue to showcase their talents on the world's biggest Rugby stages."
Latham, who is also President of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association, added: "The meeting was highly positive and constructive and I am delighted that we have the support of Unions, professional competitions and the players’ association in our quest to deliver the best-possible support mechanisms for players, the Unions and the regulation."