Rugby News: Cane urges All Blacks rethink on OS stars, rugby’s shocking death threat problem exposed

All Blacks captain Sam Cane wants New Zealand Rugby to review their eligibility rules, with the Kiwis set to be affected by overseas contracts next year.

Cane and Ardie Savea will remain eligible for the national team after contracted sabbaticals in Japan but there are others who will be missing out on selection, such as World Cup starter Richie Mounga.

Aaron Smith and Brodie Retallick have also joined clubs in Japan and are unlikely to represent their country again, while the same situation faces Leicester Fainga’anuku who moved to France with Toulon.

Other Kiwis who have left for Japan include flanker Shannon Frizell and Beauden Barrett.

Cheslin Kolbe and Sam Cane kit reveal ???? @sungoliath | #SaffasAbroad

— Darren (@SaffasRugby) November 28, 2023

Cane is concerned that South Africa allows players to represent the Springboks and play in Japan while New Zealand does not.

“A lot of the Springboks have shown the ability to play in League One and go back to international rugby fairly quickly and continue to play their best,” Cane said at media conference in Tokyo.

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup final winning team included Japan based Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel and Pieter-Steph du Toit. Cheslin Kolbe has signed alongside Cane at Sungoliath.

“I think the challenge for us guys on shorter term deals will be returning [home] in the hope of playing international rugby again,” Cane said.

“If we play well here and get back, should the opportunity to represent the All Blacks again, that we can show that we’ve improved our games.

“If we can do that, then maybe the conversation can be had at New Zealand Rugby.”

Of course New Zealand aren’t the only nation affected by the issue as the international game begins to grapple with changing circumstances, including the rise of player strength going to Japan.

England are grappling with a decision over some of their internationals – including Henry Arundell, who has been in stunning form for Racing 92.

He’s in France because his English club London Irish went into administration.

The Rugby Football Union has applied its exceptional circumstances loophole to ensure he is available to play for England in the Six Nations early in 2024 but it appears he won’t be available for England’s tour of Japan and New Zealand unless he signs with an English club.

Change at the top in Australia will also see focus come back on the Giteau Law. Hamish McLennan and Eddie Jones opted for a fluid interpretation but the new leadership team of Dan Herbert and Phil Waugh are expected to favour a tighter rein on overseas based players representing Australia – especially with the lure of a Lions tour in 2025.

World Cup TMO details death threats

Tom Foley has become the latest World Cup referee to reveal he attracted death threats from fans after the final.

Foley was the TMO for the game win 12-11 by South Africa in Paris.

As World Rugby reported more than 2,000 direct threats against match officials in recent weeks, and final ref Wayne Barnes has revealed his own issues, Foley said it was not fair tat he had to warn his children’s school about potential threats.

Foley told the BBC that comments and messages he had received included threats to hunt him down, and hopes he would die in a car crash.

He would like to see social media users having to provide identification so they can be pursued if they overstep the line.

“You can’t hide behind this faceless façade. It’s cowardice. It’s complete cowardice,” Foley says.

“They wouldn’t say it to you in the street. So why do they feel that they can say it online?”

Meanwhile Springbok halfback Cobus Reinach has detailed the level of abuse he received during the tournament.

Cobus Reinach. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

Deaths threats against him following his words of support for Ben O’Keeffe after the quarterfinal win over France, were revealed during the tournament by Rassie Erasmus.

Reinach told L’Equipe: “I said after the match that the referee had been good under pressure, which led to me receiving many messages.

“The first message concerned me directly, telling me not to come back to Montpellier, otherwise I would be killed.

“Then it started to concern my family. People, behind their keyboards, who can attack your family. They are not the ones making decisions on the field or playing against your team, so clearly, this crosses the line.”

Reinach also stressed he had received support from some French fans.

“I don’t want to dwell on it because the French have been incredible, but this online harassment, which is from a minority, must stay out of this game,” he said.

Suaalii full steam ahead

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh has confirmed there is no intention of backing out of the deal to sign Joseph Suaalii from rugby league – and tipped he could go straight into the Waolabies set up for the Spring Tour next year.

“We’re committed to Joseph, he’s coming in in November, hopefully, for the spring tour [next year],” Waugh told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We need to deliver on what we say we’re going to deliver on – and that’s a big part of it.”

If Suaalii is picked for the tour it means he won’t have played Super Rugby in the lead up – with his contract with the Roosters due to expire at the end of the 2024 NRL season – unless there is a change of heart and he’s allowed to leave early.

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