The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has announced a change to its player selection policy in an attempt to simplify the criteria needed to play for Wales.
The union has reviewed its senior player selection policy amid confusion over the previous one – known as ‘Gatland’s Law’ – and has brought in a new rule with immediate effect.
Following the scrapping of the controversial wildcard system, players based outside of Wales will be ineligible for the national side unless they have 60 caps or more.
Australia currently employ a similar selection policy, and the WRU hopes to incentivise the majority of international talent to play their domestic rugby at one of the four Welsh regions.
Previously, head coach Warren Gatland could only select four players from outside of Wales using wildcards.
Under the new system, players with less than 60 caps will have to ply their trade for one of the regions or face missing out on selection, excluding uncapped players.
Players who are currently contracted for clubs outside of Wales are still eligible for selection until its expiration – at which point they will be required to sign for a region unless they have accrued more than 60 caps.
However, players who have agreements in place for the 2018-19 season are not captured, meaning the likes of Ospreys duo Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb could fall foul of the new policy.
Fly-half Biggar, who will join Northampton Saints, has 56 caps and could feasibly reach the 60 mark during the upcoming autumn tests and next year’s Six Nations.
Toulon-bound Webb will be the highest profile casualty of the change, with just 28 caps to his name.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said: “We now think we have a policy which is clear and obvious for all parties to understand and is designed in the best interests of the players, the regional game and our national side alike.
“By keeping a player in Wales… we are acting in the best interests of the game in Wales as a whole.”