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Foreign-Born Players in 2017 Six Nations

Following the popularity of ARN’s Foreign-Born Players at Rugby World Cup 2015, the hot topic of debate regarding player eligibility is to be looked at again. In this piece we take an in-depth look into the foreign-born players in each Six Nations squad for 2017.

All told, the 2017 Six Nations Championship will have a grand total of 20 nations represented. The Americas contributes to this list through Argentina, Canada, St. Lucia, and the USA.

The Celtic nations each have players born in England. In total 16 English players will play for other countries in the tournament. The next highest producers, by birth, are New Zealand and South Africa who have 10 and 9 respectively.


SCOTLAND (18) Unsurprisingly it’s the Scots who have the most players in the group.  The number of foreign-born players, though as risen from 14 a year ago to 18 today. It would have been one more had WP Nel not withdrawn from the squad with injury. With the smallest pool of players to choose from, Scotland is often forced to look beyond its borders to seek out eligible prospects. Avoiding an unfavorable draw for Rugby World Cup 2019 has seen Vern Cotter selecting many who did not play youth rugby for Scottish clubs. The result is Scotland has just under double the number of foreign-born players than Italy.

Alex Allan LH England Grandparent
Allan Dell LH South Africa Grandparent
Simon Berghan TH New Zealand Grandparent
Tim Swinson LO England Grandparent
Ben Toolis LO Australia Parent
John Barclay FL Hong Kong Parent
Cornell du Preez FL South Africa Residency (2016)
John Hardie FL New Zealand Grandparent
Rob Harley FL England Parent
Hamish Watson FL England Grandparent
Josh Strauss N8 South Africa Residency (2015)
Ryan Wilson N8 England Grandparent
Ali Price SH England Parent
Henry Pyrgos SH England Parent
Duncan Taylor CE England Parent
Sean Maitland WI New Zealand Grandparent
Tommy Seymour WI USA Parent
Tim Visser WI Netherlands Residency (2012)


WALES (10) The Welsh roster for the 2016 Six Nations tournament included 13 foreign-born players.  The number for this year is down to 10. Most of the foreign-born players in the squad grew up in Wales, with prop Tomas Francis, second row Jake Ball, wing Alex Cuthbert, and newcomer Olly Cracknell the exceptions. Ross Moriarty played for England u20’s before being called up to follow in his father’s footsteps to play for Wales.

Tomas Francis TH England Grandparent
Jake Ball LO England Parent
Luke Charteris LO England Residency (1986)
Olly Cracknell FL England Grandparent
James King FL Australia Residency (1993)
Ross Moriarty FL England Parent
Taulupe Faletau N8 Tonga Residency (2001)
Jonathan Davies CE England Parent
Alex Cuthbert WI England Parent
George North WI England Parent


ITALY (8) Jacques Brunel had 10 foreign-born players a year ago. His replacement, Conor O’Shea has 8. Argentine props Matías Agüero and Martín Castrogiovanni have played their final test matches for Italy, as has midfielder Gonzalo García. South African lock Quintin Geldenhuys has also retired from international duty. Canadian Robert Barbieri has missed out. The Argentine-Italian Sergio Parisse continues to captain the team. Often criticized as failing to produce home-grown talent, Italy is fielding fewer players from abroad than many rivals.

Ornel Gega HK Albania Residency (2002)
Dario Chistolini TH South Africa Parent
George Biagi LO Scotland Parent
Joshua Furno LO Australia Parent
Dries van Schalkwyk LO South Africa Residency (2015)
Sergio Parisse N8 Argentina Parent
Braam Steyn N8 South Africa Residency (2015)
Luke McLean CE/FB Australia Grandparent


ENGLAND (7) Stuart Lancaster had three foreign born players on his World Cup roster. Eddie Jones swiftly went about making personal changes in 2016. This included increasing the number of players born outside of England to 12. In 2017 the number stands at 7 though it would likely be higher if Manu Tuilagi and the Vunipola brothers were available. The Americas are represented by Marland Yarde, born in Castries, St. Lucia, who moved to England aged nine. Jack Clifford is another whose parents returned to England when he was young. His father is Kenyan and mother English. Zimbabwe’s Mike Williams grew up idolizing the Springboks but is now to play for England. He was eligible for South Africa, having got an academy scholarship at the Sharks aged 18. Nathan Hughes turned down playing for Fiji at RWC 2015.

Dylan Hartley HK New Zealand Parent
Jack Clifford FL Australia Parent
Teimana Harrison FL New Zealand Parent
Mike Williams FL Zimbabwe Grandparent
Nathan Hughes N8 Fiji Residency (2016)
Ben Te’o CE New Zealand Parent
Marland Yarde WI St. Lucia Residency (2004)


IRELAND (6) Ireland’s policy of restricting places in their provincial sides for Irish-eligible players has had the knock-on effect of an increase in the number of so-called ‘project’ players who qualify, or will qualify, on residency. Yet CJ Stander is the only such player selected for the Six Nations this year. Ireland’s foreign-born legion is down from 9 a year ago to 6 today. Jake Heenan, Jared Payne, Quinn Roux, and Richardt Strauss are a sampling of additional project players.

Finlay Bealham TH Australia Grandparent
Ultan Dillane LO France Parent
CJ Stander FL South Africa Residency (2015)
Jamie Heaslip N8 Israel Parent
Kieran Marmion SH England Parent
Luke McGrath SH Canada Parent


FRANCE (4) Guy Novès has again selected four foreign-born players. It is a marked change in philosophy to his predecessor, Phillipe Saint-Andre who took 10 to the World Cup in England. Fijians Noa Nakaitaci and Virimi Vakatawa account for 50% of the wingers selected. Sébastien Vaha’amahina was born in New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific that could well become independent in the relatively near future. If new FFR president Bernard Laporte has his way these could well be the last ‘imports’ to play for France for some time.

Uini Atonio TH New Zealand Residency (2014)
Noa Nakaitaci WI Fiji Residency (2014)
Virimi Vakatawa WI Fiji Residency (2013)
Scott Spedding FB South Africa Residency (2011)


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Formally created in June 2015, this website's goal is to increase media exposure of the Tier 2 rugby nations, and create a hub with a focus on the stories of rugby in the Americas - North, Central and South.

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