South Africa`s Faf de Klerk, one of the finalists for Saturday`s World Cup, is a Kolpak rugby player in the Premiership. But what should worry Premiership rugby directors in the country is their dependence on these Kolpak players, especially since their ability to select them regularly could be withdrawn as early as 29 March. Despite this, we will know more about the impact on rugby on 11 December, when Prime Minister Theresa May tries to accept her agreement from British MPs. The threat of a no-deal Brexit could have serious consequences for English, Scottish and Welsh rugby, which RugbyPass has already carried out a thorough review in December, ahead of the extension of the EU exit deadline agreed in March. Sign up for our mailing list for a weekly Rugby World Digest. The same goes for Michele Campagnaro of the Exeter Chiefs, who has 32 national games for Italy. The Italian Derrick Appiah of London-Scottish might not be allowed to play (he is currently on loan at Edinburgh) unless he is admitted to the Italian national team instead of being admitted to Italy, the second Italian national rugby team of the Union. It has the potential to be a giant party at Twickenham, the home of English rugby, just before the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday (read our first Brexit sports blog on horse racing here). Once the dust settles and the hangover subsides after this week`s sporting events, there will still be some major talking points that will influence the future of rugby in Britain. It is fair to say that Brexit has not been well managed at the government level, but all the Premiership clubs were aware of the referendum, the result and the possible results of recent years, so there is really no excuse to deal with it. Whatever happens on 11 December, the landscape of English and British rugby will change dramatically in 2019. Otherwise, the UK could negotiate a bilateral trade agreement in which it would retain access to the free market and circumvent certain EU laws – as would be easy, it is at the heart of the residence/withdrawal argument. In the Rugby and Rugby Union, Kolpak allowed teams to hire many players from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and South Africa, all of whom are also ACP countries.
Many Rugby Union clubs have also signed South African players under Kolpak, including France RC Toulonnais and Saracens F.C. The Heineken Champions Cup is the most important rugby competition in Europe. In section 3.7 of the rules of the game, it is stated that each club is allowed to have a maximum of two “non-European players” in each playing team. In this context, the “non-European” would generally refer to actors outside the European Economic Area (EEA). However, players from certain countries outside the EEA are not subject to this rule under an international treaty between the EU and a group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (the Cotonou Agreement).