The ‘is he, isn’t he eligible’ saga that surfaced over Australian Kiwi Steve Devine has been resolved and the scrum-half from Boggabri (NSW) will wear the number 9 jersey for the All Blacks
The ‘is he, isn’t he eligible’ saga that surfaced over Australian Kiwi Steve Devine has been resolved and the scrum-half from Boggabri in New South Wales will wear the number 9 jersey for the All Blacks against England in Twickenham on Saturday.
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 to
represent 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
4. The player believed that the teams involved in the Dubai Tournament did not constitute the Senior or next Senior National Representative Team for the purposes of international status and eligibility under the relevant regulation at the time of the tournament.
5. Having made enquires, the player understood that participation in the Dubai Tournament in 1998 would not affect his eligibility status which prior to the Tournament he had committed to New Zealand.
6. In 2000 the relevant regulation was updated to explicitly state that playing for one’s national sevens team counted towards national eligibility.
7. The player responded to the invitation to play for an Australian team in Dubai solely with the motivation of maintaining his fitness during the brief off-season. The player has confirmed that he would not have participated if he had been aware that his one-off participation in a sevens tournament would have compromised his eligibility.
8. Eligibility cases of this nature are subject to individual
assessment based on their specific facts.