RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie defends England's selection of Denny Solomona
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 21/04/17 5:44pm
RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie has defended England's decision to select Denny Solomona while at the same time spearheading efforts to change the three-year residency rule.
Sale Sharks winger Solomona, who was born in New Zealand and has represented Samoa in rugby league, was picked by Eddie Jones for England's tour of Argentina this summer.
The 23-year-old, who controversially switched codes in December by swapping Castleford Tigers for Sale, became eligible on March 9 having lived in England for three years, but a campaign led by World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is seeking to raise the period by a further 24 months.
The sport's global governing body will vote on whether to change the rule at its council meeting in May and the RFU have backed the proposals.
Ritchie told Sky Sports News HQ: "Our long-term position is we believe the rules should change to a five-year residential period and we have been arguing that already.
"There is a debate coming up at World Rugby in May and we will certainly be supporting that.
"I see nothing at all inconsistent however with saying 'who does Eddie want to pick?' and my primary role is to help him facilitate all of that.
"Denny hits the current residency qualifications and therefore I think we should be entitled to pick him. We abide by the rules.
"If we want to change the rules then fine but at the moment, if he has got a three-year qualification and he is eligible, then I think Eddie should be entitled to pick him."
Solomona joins Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni - who were both born in Fiji - as foreign imports who were handed their debuts by Jones having qualified under the three-year residency rule.
But they could be the last with Ritchie confident the motion to extend the residency period to five years will pass next month.
"Let's see the outcome of what happens," Ritchie said. "We are supporting the five years and I hope, think and believe there is going to be a majority on that."