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SBD Global/June 20, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Australian Rugby Union CEO Pulver Declares 'Zero Appetite' For Easing Eligibility Rules

The Australian Rugby Union is "digging its heels in on the controversial issue of player sabbaticals," with CEO Bill Pulver declaring there is "zero appetite" for relaxing Australia's "strict rules on Test eligibility," according to Georgina Robinson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Pulver "all but shut the door on change." Pulver: "I can tell you there is zero appetite to change the policy that requires Wallabies to be playing domestic rugby in advance of being selected for the Wallabies." With fears circulating that Australia faces a "mass exodus of its biggest stars after next year's World Cup, Eales told Fox Sports that the time would come when the ARU would have to look at different ways to retain its best players." Pulver said, "We've seen the All Blacks do it, giving people sabbaticals, and in the sabbaticals they can either have a rest or go and play on a lucrative contact overseas" (SMH, 6/19). REUTERS' Ian Ransom reported New Zealand has "adopted a sabbatical scheme on a case-by-case basis," allowing some players to "take a break from playing." Despite the policy, a "number of capped Wallabies have signalled their intention to quit the country at the end of the Super Rugby season, including former captain Ben Mowen and Western Force backrower Hugh McMeniman." Australia has "previously massaged the policy, and allowed veteran flanker George Smith to play for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions after returning from Japan for a short stint with Canberra-based Super Rugby team ACT Brumbies" (REUTERS, 6/19).
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