Making A U-Turn On ‘Gatland Law’: Wales Could Change Selection Policy For World Cup

Let’s make no mistake, Gatland Law has been a miserable failure. Where a law of such restrictions should be as black and white as possible, it has increasingly been made greyer and become more subjective under Warren Gatland’s time as Wales coach.

Where it should also be made clear, is that Gatland himself did not create the rule, it’s just his name that has been used to coin the policy; instead, it was created by the WRU, and it’s laws continue to have holes in them which could see a total u-turn on the policy in Welsh rugby.

The current rule of thumb is that only four players are allowed to be selected for Wales who play their rugby abroad; this number is then set to be halved by the time of the 2019 World Cup, meaning the likes of George North, Taulupe Faletau, Jamie Roberts, Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar and Liam Williams will all be fighting for those two places in Gatland’s squad.

However, the WRU are now looking to change the policy to mirror the Australian set-up which allows players with 60 caps to represent their country, regardless of whether they play club rugby abroad.

The change of rule would introduce a more objective outlook on selecting foreign players, but it could still come at a cost to players such as Rhys Webb by the time of the World Cup as the scrum-half only has 28 caps to date.

Players such as Webb wishing to play their rugby outside of Wales is understandable; players are not in the sport for a long time, and if a big money deal is on the table, it makes sense to grab your opportunities rather than gamble that it will come later on in your career.

The likes of Ospreys are hardly threatening to upset the big names in Eureoapn rugby, meaning, sadly, although the morals of Gatland Law are good, it was always destined to fail with Wales lacking the pulling power of other domestic leagues outmuscling the Pro14.