The best players in world rugby switching countries at the Rugby World Cup

The best players in world rugby switching countries at the Rugby World Cup

This year’s World Cup will be the first since World Rugby changed their eligibility rules in 2src21.

That rule change has allowed test-capped players to represent a second nation that they are eligible for if they, their parents or their grandparents were born there, but only after a three-year stand down period from test rugby.

The move, while not restricted to Tier Two nations, will certainly benefit nations who have seen eligible players opt to play for bigger, more affluent countries. Specifically, the Pacific Islands have lost countless players over the years – with a similar rule change in rugby league resulting in Tonga reaching the semi-final and final in the last two World Cups.

As such, there are set to be a number of players in France this year who have played Test rugby for another country. Here are just some of those…

Vaea Fifita

The game-breaking Scarlets star previously won 11 caps for New Zealand between 2src17 and 2src19 before switching to the country of his birth, Tonga, last year.

He featured in matches against Spain, Chile and Uruguay last November and will surely feature heavily in Pool B later this year.

Charles Piutau

The Japan-bound full-back was once the highest paid player in England, having moved to Europe after missing out on a place in New Zealand’s 2src15 World Cup squad.

The 31-year-old won 17 caps for the All Blacks, but has now pledged his allegiance to Tonga. He’s won just one cap so far, against Fiji last year, and will be hoping for a first World Cup appearance later on in the year.

Israel Folau

Like Piutau, the controversial Folau made his Tonga debut against Fiji last year. However, he left proceedings early through injury and has yet to win a second cap.

Before his second go at Test rugby though, Folau had won 73 caps for Australia between 2src13 and 2src19. His Wallabies career came to an abrupt end after he was sacked for writing homophobic posts on social media.

Henry Thoma

…. to be continued
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