Warren Gatland: Former head coach says Wales cap rule is too high

Warren Gatland and Rhys Webb on Wales 2016 tour of New Zealand
Warren Gatland and Rhys Webb on Wales' 2016 tour of New Zealand

Former Wales coach Warren Gatland says the Welsh Rugby Union's 60-cap international rule which halted Rhys Webb's Test career was set too high.

In October 2017, the WRU changed its Test selection policy for players taking up a new contract outside Wales.

Scrum-half Webb was the main casualty after agreeing a deal with Toulon.

"I believed from the start it was too high a figure and I have continued to back a cut to 30 caps," Gatland wrote in his new autobiography.

Former Ospreys scrum-half Webb has won 31 caps for his country and Gatland - while agreeing in general with the policy of trying to keep players in Wales - believes the threshold should have been placed much lower at 30.

WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said in August the 60-cap rule would be reviewed after the 2019 World Cup but believes the policy overall has been a success.

In his book, Warren Gatland Pride And Passion, Gatland wrote: "I still felt desperately that Rhys Webb, every inch a scrum-half of international calibre, has fallen victim to our 60-cap rule which states that for people playing their rugby outside Wales, only those with that number of Test appearances or more can be picked for their country.

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"Rhys had already agreed to join Toulon when the rule was introduced in 2017.

"At the time he had 31 caps to his name. He could have pulled out of the deal and remained available to Wales but to his credit he felt he had made a commitment to the French club and should honour it.

"I can't pretend I agree with the situation and I've made my feelings known, but as some influential figures in Welsh rugby originally wanted a 75-cap cut-off, it was never going to be an easy argument to win."

WRU chairman Gareth Davies said: "It is something that is being reviewed right now. We will be meeting with the players themselves to see what they think.

"I know there are differing opinions of the 60-cap rule but I think it is something that has worked in terms of the retention and repatriation of players in Wales."

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