Rugby Union

Warren Gatland may be in charge of a much change Wales lineup in the future .

Wales rugby players face big decisions following new selection policy

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The old age debate of club versus country has a new fascinating chapter, with the Welsh Rugby Union implementing a new rule that will force a number of top players to make a big decision over their playing futures.

The decision makers of Wales rugby have changed its senior international selection policy for players.

From the beginning of the 2017/18 season, players who choose to take up a contract with a club not based in a Welsh region will have to have played 60 Tests to earn Test selection.

Welsh rugby previously had a ruling called Gatland's Law, which allowed head coach Warren Gatland to pick four players at clubs outside Wales to play for the national side.

This ruling will not effect players who are already playing outside Wales.

However, Wales Online reports that for players like scrum-half Rhys Webb, it presents itself as a real conundrum.

The 28-year-old, who has played just 28 Tests, has signed on with French club Toulon for the upcoming season.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has raised the possibility that Webb could reverse his decision to join the French club in order to still play international rugby.

“Rhys can still get out of the contract. He’s only signed a letter of agreement.

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“I had a good conversation with him. He’s 28, he’s had a lot of injuries. He may have made that decision whether he was captured or not.

“It was a decision about his future. For him to get to 60 caps might take three years and he may not get that opportunity again.

"We’ve got to respect and understand that.”

Webb said he was unaware of the ruling coming into play at the time of signing his Toulon contract, and said: "I am very disappointed at the news because I love playing for Wales. It means a huge amount to me.

"It’s a real blow that I won’t be able to play international rugby from next season.

British & Irish Lions Captain's Run

“I didn’t know the full implications when I agreed to join Toulon because the change in the selection policy came out after I signed.

"I have given ten years service to the Ospreys and Welsh rugby and have picked up injuries along the way. I would have hoped that would have been taken into consideration."

Fly-half Dan Biggar's situation is slightly different, as while he is set to play for Northampton in the Aviva Premiership, having played 56 Tests, he should reach the 60 Test mark in the Autumn internationals when Wales play Australia, Georgia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Other players who the ruling does not effect as they are currently under contract for their English club sides include fly-half Owen Williams (Leicester), tighthead Tomas Francis (Exeter), fullback Liam Williams (Saracens) and flanker Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).

France v Wales - RBS Six Nations

While this new ruling will not effect players who are already playing outside Wales, when the contracts for the quartet mentioned above expire, they have big decisions to make over their international career as all of them are under the 60 cap mark.

Life is all about choices, and it is clear that Welsh rugby players have a big one to make from now on.

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Topics:
Six Nations
Wales Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup
Rugby Union

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