Universal Acceptance is Hard to Gain

Depending on whom you were supporting in the Wallabies quarter final against Scotland the comments of Fox Sports Greg Clark may have amused or annoyed.

On several occasions he referred to players representing Scotland as “Kilted Kiwis” or “Jock Boks.” The reference being to the players place of birth or where they grew up.

Clark is not alone in having a go at teams playing against Australia who have players representing the opposition who come from somewhere other than the team they are representing. This is baffling when one considers that Australia is a country built on migrants, and has had many people born and raised outside of Australia represent it on the world’s sporting stage.

In fact when one compares the two squads at the World Cup Australia has ten players born overseas and Scotland twelve. Three of these Scottish players were born in England, but to Scottish parents. So they were born in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and if they played Sevens at the Olympics would do so representing Great Britain, so can they be classed as outsiders? If not then that would mean that Australia had more players born overseas on the park than Scotland.

Like the Wallabies a large number of those born overseas moved to Australia as children. Joe Tomane was three when he moved from New Zealand, Will Skelton was 10, Saudi Arabia- born Stephen Moore was 5, Papua New Guinea- born Will Genia 12 years old, Quade Cooper 13, David Pocock was 14 and Tevita Kuridrani was 16.

If we look at Scotland Sam Hidalgo – Clyne was born in Spain but moved to Scotland when he was three. Of those born outside the UK Tommy Seymour who was born in Nashville has a Scottish mother, as does New Zealand born Blair Cowan. Zimbabwean-born Dave Denton also has a Scottish mother.

Two players born in New Zealand but representing Scotland do so on account of their grandparents being Scottish, these being John Hardie and Sean Maitland. The latter claims his grandfather always reminded him that he was part Scottish, while in his own words his father was “fully Scottish.”

Which brings us down to how many players actually served residency to play for Scotland. The answer is three. After three years in Scotland WP Nel declared his allegiance to his new home and said he would decline the chance to play for South Africa. Josh Strauss is another who turned his back on a career with the Springboks and he had a very good chance of making the grade. Strauss skippered the Golden Lions to victory in the Currie Cup in 2011 and was named Currie Cup Player of the Tournament by his peers. He moved to Glasgow in 2012. The last of the three is Netherlands born Tim Visser. He opted to play for Scotland and become the first Dutch player to play international rugby. World Rugby eligibility rules state that a player may play for the senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team of the Union of the country in which he has completed 36 consecutive months of residence, and that was how he qualified.

Australia have a player who left to play in New Zealand despite being born in Australia of Tongan parents. Sekope Kepu’s family emigrated to New Zealand and he developed as a player there and represented the Chiefs in Super Rugby. Only aged 21 did he return to the land of his birth when he joined the Waratahs. A year later he made his debut for the Wallabies.

Dean Mumm who has captained the Wallabies since his return to the fold was born in New Zealand and his grandfather  Bill, was an All Blacks test prop in 1949. Mumm however did his schooling in Australia and first represented the country as an under sixteen year old.

Fijian born Henry Speight, grandson of former Fiji President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo decided to go the residency route before being allowed to represent Australia. Just as his two Scottish counterparts did. He and they followed the rules and made the move to the countries they now call home and none were fast tracked to the top. So they have made that decision and some would say sacrifice.

So did these players deserve the tag that they were given during the game against the Wallabies? How come some of the Australians were not given similar tags?

This is the way of the Rugby World, almost every team in the tournament has players born outside of the country they represent, yet all have qualified to play for the nation they represent via parents or grandparents or residency.

Incredibly only two teams at the World Cup are made up solely of players born within the country they represent, Georgia was one and the other is Australia’s opponent in the semi final, Argentina. So there will be no opportunity for such comments in this match.



Universal Acceptance is Hard to Gain
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