France pick then drop ineligible player

David Smith

David Smith played for the Barbarians against England in 2015

France have had to drop David Smith for Friday’s Six Nations match with Wales after discovering he is ineligible.

Castres’ Samoa-born wing Smith was added to coach Guy Noves’ squad on Sunday after injuries to Marvin O’Connor and Teddy Thomas.

But when the 29-year old arrived in camp, he revealed he had played sevens for New Zealand in 2008.

“Because of this, David Smith isn’t eligible for selection for France,” said a French Rugby statement.

The statement said that the French Rugby Federation (FFR) had a document dating from August 2014, which indicated that Smith “appeared eligible” for France on residency grounds.

But it added: “On his arrival, David revealed to us he played in 2008 at Edinburgh in the international Sevens tournament for New Zealand.”


David Smith (right) and Solomon King hold the IRB international sevens trophy they helped New Zealand win in 2008

Under World Rugby regulations, once a player has represented a country at senior, “designated” A-team level or in rugby sevens, they cannot play for another country – even if they move to live and play there.

A player can otherwise qualify to play for a country after living there for three years, provided they have not already played senior international rugby elsewhere.

France, who beat Italy and Ireland in their opening two Six Nations matches, play Wales in Cardiff on Friday evening.

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