The Springboks may have voted against the law change, but they have taken advantage by turning their South African-born lock Jean Kleyn from a five-time Irish international who played twice at the last World Cup into a fully-fledged Springbok.
You may need to take a double-take when watching the Rugby World Cup because there will be some familiar faces in some unfamiliar shirts in France.
We’ve seen players change from one nation to another in the past – the Bachop brothers, Stephen and Graeme, both played for the All Blacks before arriving at the 1999 tournament representing Samoa and Japan for instance – but a change in the laws by World Rugby has given more players the chance to go back to their roots.
The change to the eligibility laws came in 2021 and allows a player to change nationalities provided they have played less than 100 Tests, they haven’t been selected for an international team for three years and have a parent or grandparent who was born in the country they wish to represent.
It is a move that has angered some of the minnows from South America, but has given the South Sea islanders a considerable boost. The Tongans, Fijians and Samoans in particular were sick of seeing so much of their talent playing for New Zealand and Australia in particular.
This World Cup has given them the chance to claim back a few players who should help make their squads far more competitive.
Here is the full list of players who have switched allegiance to play in France.
Richard Hardwick won two caps for the Wallabies in 2017, but the flanker will be playing for the land of his birth six years on. Born in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, he switched allegiance to the Welwitschias in 2022.
Tonga will head to France with four players who have switched from another nation. They may have left former Australian full back Israel Folau at home, but they have called up former Australian lock Adam Coleman. There are also three former All Blacks in their squad behind the scrum, including ex-Munster centre Malakai Fekitoa, who was in the 2015 World Cup winning squad for New Zealand. The others are Charles Piutau and George Moala.
The Springboks may have voted against the law change, but they have taken advantage by turning their South African-born lock Jean Kleyn, another Munster player, from a five-time Irish international who played twice at the last World Cup into a fully-fledged Springbok.
Scotland will have the former Australian back row forward Jack Dempsey, who also played twice in Japan four years ago, in their back row contingent. He won 14 caps for the Wallabies and now has 11 for Scotland after his conversion in 2022.
Former England prop Thomas has opted to play for the land of his father, Wales, in France. The 31-year-old Montpellier prop won seven caps for England between 2013-14 while at Bath. Called into the squad by Warren Gatland, he is there to anchor the tight head side of the scrum. Wales also include two former U20 World Rugby Championship winners with England in centres Nick Tompkins and Johnny Williams.
Samoa has a rich history at the World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals in 1991 and 1995, and twice beating Wales in Cardiff (1991, 1999). They will have four converts in France, one of them a World Cup winner with the All Blacks in 2015. Tigh head prop Charlie Faumuina came on in the second half at Twickenham eight years ago to help the All Blacks retain their title. He won 50 caps between 2012-17 before joining Toulouse. Now 36, he made his Samoa debut against Japan this summer. Lima Sopoaga and Steven Luatua have joined him in switching allegiance, while former Wallaby and Ulster outside half Christian Leali’ifano is their other convert. He, too, played at the 2019 tournament for Australia.