World Rugby has no plans to investigate claims that Italy legend Martin Castrogiovanni was ineligible to play Test rugby for the Azzurri as no formal complaint has been made.
The former Leicester Tigers prop, who won 119 caps for Italy, was born in Parana, Argentina, and was thought to qualify for the Italian side via a grandparent. But in a recent interview, Castrogiovanni revealed it was his great-grandfather who was born in Italy which would have made him ineligible under the current laws.
Under World Rugby’s current eligibility criteria, a player can represent a certain country if he was born there, has one parent or grandparent born there, or qualifies on residency.
“Grandpa Castro was born in Argentina, his name was Jose Maria,” said Castro in an interview with rugbychampagneweb.com. “The one who was Italian was my great-grandfather, Angel, who was born in Sicily, in Franco Forte.”
If any future investigation were to find Italy had fielded ineligible players, they would be liable under regulation eight of World Rugby’s laws.
The governing body did not confirm or deny whether Castrogiovanni was eligible for Italy under the laws that were in place when he made his debut in 2002 and Telegraph Sport understands they believe the Italian Rugby Federation should be responsible for any investigation into historic ineligibility in their team.
A number of other ex-internationals have had their eligibility for Italy questioned following the Castrogiovanni interview, including South African-born lock Carlo Del Fava, who won 52 caps for Italy, and Argentinian-born second row Santiago Dellapè.
The debate over the eligibility of Castrogiovanni to play for Italy has put further scrutiny on World Rugby's eligibility laws after Romania, Spain, and Belgium were all docked points for playing ineligible players during the European qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The Spaniards have lost their place at next year’s World Cup in France after a complaint by Romania where they questioned the eligibility of South Africa-born Gavin van den Berg, who played in two key games having apparently qualified on residency grounds. It was the second tournament in a row the Spaniards had missed out due to breaches of the rules.