The changes in the schedule announced by World Rugby and subject to approval on July 30 at the Council meeting, raised the need to change Rule 9 of “player availability”. Something that also, like the modification of the calendar, will be for one time and in an exceptional way until the international window is finished.
The new programming of the domestic, European and international calendars will be arranged so that professional clubs have access to international players from the Southern Hemisphere to complete their 2019/20 season in a period in which they would have been naturally affected by international rugby in August and September.
The recommendation to temporarily change the Rule 9 windows will be presented at a virtual World Rugby Council meeting on July 30. Subject to approval, the full match schedule will be announced in due course by the respective unions and owners of international competitions. The current Rule 9 will return to normal after December 13.
What does Rule 9 say? As a preamble, he stresses that “High-quality international Rugby serves the best interests of the sport at all levels. The selection of the best Players for international Rugby also represents the fairest selection system as it is based on the merits of the game . ” It adds that “World Rugby and the Unions recognize that the Right of Liberation for Parties must be exercised in a reasonable manner and with due consideration of the own interests and well-being of the Players and other pertinent organisms that may be affected”, in addition to respect “adequate rest”.
He then explains that “this Regulation 9 has been prepared based on the current / projected World Rugby schedule of International Matches, International Tours and International Tournaments and the periods during which those International Matches, International Tours and International Tournaments take place.”
As for the “Right of release”, establishes – we present it here in summary – that “a Union, Association, Rugby Body or Club is obliged to release a Player to the Union for which the Player is eligible when selected by that Union for a National Representative Team or National Squad “.
When does the Right of Liberation apply?
9.5 The Match Release Right will apply to Mandatory Release Events, Global Release Periods, Hemisphere Release Periods and Rugby Championship Release Period.
9.6 Mandatory Release Events
The Right of Liberation for Parties applies to the Mandatory Liberation Events set forth below as long as those Mandatory Liberation Events are held. All Players selected to participate in Mandatory Release Events will be released.
(a) Mandatory Union Release Events:
(i) The Rugby World Cup Tournament every four years and Qualifying Matches.
(ii) The Seven Rugby World Cup Event every four years.
(iii) The Olympic Sevens Rugby Event and Qualifying Matches.
(b) Mandatory Release Events of Combined Teams:
(i) The British and Irish Lions Quadrennial Tour is a Mandatory Event and all Players selected to participate must be released. The Release Period will normally begin on July 1 and will normally end on the first weekend of August of the corresponding year.
(ii) The Quadrennial Tour of the Pacific Island Unions Combined Teams (Fiji, Samoa and Tonga) is a Mandatory Event and all Players selected to participate must be released. The Tour will take place in the November window of the corresponding year.
9.7 Global Release Periods
There are two Periods of Global Liberation.
(a) The July Window
(b) The November window
9.8 Hemisphere Release Periods and Tournament Release Periods
There are two Hemisphere Liberation Periods.
(a) Northern Hemisphere Release Period
(b) Liberation Period of the Southern Hemisphere
(c) Rugby Championship Release Period
World Rugby regulation 9, can be read in full, here.