Currently, once a player represents a nation at test level, they’re tied to that country for life unless they undergo a convoluted method to switch allegiances involving playing in a number of Olympics sevens qualifying tournaments.
Later this month, World Rugby will vote on whether to change the laws to allow players to change allegiances after sitting out a mandatory stand-down period of three years, provided that the player, their parents or their grandparents were born in the country they are looking to switch allegiances to.
Responding to a Twitter post from RugbyPass asking ‘Who is the best [No] 12?’ in the Autumn Nations Series, Laumape tagged World Rugby and responded ‘open up the eligibility rules and let’s find out’.
Laumape, who once represented the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, made his test debut for the All Blacks in 2017. While his form at Super Rugby level was always compelling, the 28-year-old struggled to nail down a spot in the NZ midfield and after clocking up 15 caps over four seasons, made the decision to head overseas.
Laumape now represents Stade Francais in the Top 14, making his debut in September after finishing up the Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes.
While Laumape wouldn’t be eligible for Tonga immediately, even if the regulations were to change, as he played his most recent test for New Zealand just last year.
However, the wrecking ball of a midfielder’s parents were born in Tonga, which would make Laumape eligible for the Ikale Tahi as soon as a three-year stand-down is completed.
Laumape wouldn’t be available for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but he would be able to represent Tonga from the beginning of the 2024 season, and which point the specialist No 12 would be 31 years old.
Current All Black Ardie Savea retweeted Laumape’s response, backing his former teammate’s call for World Rugby to change the laws.