Rugby’s international governing body, World Rugby has today ruled that the scheduled Māori All Blacks v USA Eagles match, for November 4 in Chicago sits outside the regular international schedule.
It’s a cruel blow for Māori rugby, who last month, named current Blues head coach, Tana Umaga to an assistant coaching role, to support Colin Cooper in their northern hemisphere tour.
USA Eagles head coach, John Mitchell, also a former All Blacks coach, however, now will be left without numerous top-tier American players because their respective clubs are not obliged to release them for the match.
The controversial ruling comes as further ‘salt-in-the-wound’ to a recovering Māori All Blacks side, who are in constant competition on numerous levels with the demands of professional rugby here at home.
Mitchell, told Martin Devlin on Radio Sport this morning, “there some complications around the selection and eligibility criteria for this match”
He continued on to say, “it’s [the Māori All Blacks match] not an official test match, so ‘regulation 9’ does not allow us to play our best players, but what it does do is allows us to play the best of our domestic players.”
World Rugby’s ‘regulation 9’ in the World Rugby handbook cites the availability of players.
The Māori All Blacks are not explicitly named in Appendix 2 Part A of the Regulation in the World Rugby handbook, thus, meaning in the eyes of World Rugby, the game is merely for exhibition value only.
It is believed that up to 10 of the USA Eagles front-line players will now be rendered unavailable for the match.
The Māori All Blacks take on the weakened USA side on November 4 at Chicago’s Toyota Park, and the All Blacks will take on Ireland at the headquarters of the Chicago Bears NFL side, Soldier Field on November 5.
Te Kāea rugby correspondant, Raniera Harrison will have the latest details on Te Kāea, 5:30pm, only on Māori Television.