The issue arose because Devine had played Sevens rugby with Australia in Dubai in 1998 which according to IRB rules, updated in 2000, explicitly state that playing for one's national sevens team counted towards national eligibility.In fact the NZRFU seemed resigned to losing Devine when their oficial website claimed that "The NZRFU admitted Devine, was not eligible under international rules" and they "were seeking an IRB dispensation for him."However, it would seem then, that the NZRFU, found that the matter of Devine playing in an Australian shirt had been a huge mistake. He had in fact already committed to the Blacks cause and only took part in the competition to maintain his fitness. He had even enquired (in 1998) if participation in the Dubai event would affect his eligibility and obviously received assurances that it wouldn't.
So he played. And then in 2000 the IRBupdated the regulation. And made him ineligible. Until the facts were presented. The facts are as follows.
The IRB has now received confirmation from the New Zealand Rugby Football Union on the facts and circumstances relating to Steve Devine. Having reviewed the circumstances, the player is eligible torepresent New Zealand.
Background Information (as supplied by the NZRU).
1. The New Zealand Rugby Union has confirmed that the player has satisfied Regulation 8.1 (c) by completing 36 months of residence in New Zealand immediately preceding his selection.2. The issue that required clarification was whether on the facts of this case the player's participation for an Australian sevens team on the one occasion in Dubai in 1998 meant that his eligibility was fixed for Australia.3. This ruling is consistent with the rulings in previous similar cases involving players from Samoa, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong whereby in certain circumstances a player that played in a sevens match for one union prior to 2000, may be deemed eligible to play for