WORLD CUP winner Lawrence Dallaglio believes the law that allows the likes of Kiwi-born duo Shontayne Hape and Dylan Hartley to represent England is deeply flawed and in urgent need of review.
Hape, a former New Zealand rugby league international, has starred at centre during England’s impressive autumn campaign, while Hartley appears to have stolen ahead of Dallaglio’s former England teammate, Steve Thompson, as manager Martin Johnson’s starting hooker.
Both men, along with Riki Flutey and Hendre Fourie, who could line-up against his fellow South African countrymen at Twickenham on Saturday, are able to represent England as a consequence of the relaxed dual citizenship laws.
Dallaglio stressed he in no way blames the players for exploiting the system, nor Johnson, whose responsibility it is to pick the best team available, but is concerned about the possibility of the national side losing its English identity.
He told City A.M: “I think the three-year qualification system is a weak law which allows players to play for, really, any country they want.
“Look, do you think if you spend three years here then that makes you English? Or if I lived for three years in New Zealand it makes me a Kiwi? I would never criticise the players, they are just operating within the rules.
“But I think a six-year qualification would be more in line with what people would expect. By then you’d know if someone was truly committed to the country or not.
“Rules are rules and any team will pick their best players within those rules. But one has to be careful in sport that you don’t lose your identity.”
Dallaglio (right), who won 85 caps over the course of a stellar international career, is relieved that the current England side isn’t awash with adopted Englishmen, and is puzzled that a tightening of the laws appears not to be on the International Rugby Board’s agenda.
He said: “With England at the moment we’re only talking about two or three players. I understand their wish to play international rugby.
“I don’t see any great desire to change the rules at the moment though and I would really question whether three years is long enough to become a fully integrated national.
“I mean look at it like this: three years is a university course these days. You can come over here and study and suddenly you’re eligible to play for England.”
Lawrence Dallaglio is rugby ambassador for Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of England Rugby. Enjoy a proper pint of Greene King IPA at your nearest Official England Rugby Supporter Pub by visiting www.greenekingipa.co.uk
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