COMMENT

Look in the mirror World Rugby. Ask yourself if you want what is best for the game.

Run the question again. Would you rather protect the major nations or encourage those who are on the fringes of causing upset results?

The image is clear but the message remains muddled especially if you isolate an example such as Charles Piutau who played 17 tests for the All Blacks — the last in July 2015 — before jetting away to support an extended family network with contracts in Europe.

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He has waited on the international sidelines for three years and is now qualified to play for Tonga.

That would be the sensible application of the stand-down rule but in their wisdom, WR attached another fish-hook before someone like Piutau can wriggle away to life in new international waters.

He has to play in an Olympic sevens tournament to qualify for a scarlet Tongan jersey at next year's World Cup in Japan and there are no more of those events before the 2019 World Cup. There's no dispensation available for Piutau or others who find themselves caught in a similar international limbo.

In the interim, WR has reworked the idea and pushed the stand-down time out to five years to stop, in their view, others looking to find convenient allegiances. So sorry Charles, pick up your ball and go back to club rugby because we don't want you or others bolstering the ranks of those pesky Pacific Island nations or returning to boost Georgia or Romania.

International coaches share a common passion to get the best out of their sides and see how they compare against top teams.

No one wants players border-hopping with annual frequency in an attempt to create that competition and three years on the outer allows a change of circumstances and also puts pressure on players around their playing choices.

Telling players to cool their international jets for five years is excessive and detrimental to the sport. But who ever claimed WR was in touch with the real world?

You have to think there's a legal challenge brewing around someone like Piutau, for some nation to pick up the cause and run with it. It would be nice to think so but the tedious issues of time and money are a massive impediment. It's tough enough for financially-troubled countries to organise a World Cup campaign without entering the purging economies of legal inquiries.

All of us change our minds and if players nominate a change of eligibility, three years without any special conditions is long enough for anyone to be on the sidelines.