Samoan-born wing David Smith’s call-up to the France squad on Sunday lasted only a few hours before it was discovered he was ineligible.
Castres flyer Smith, 29, was called up by France coach Guy Noves on Sunday afternoon alongside Stade Francais full-back Djibril Camara to replace injured wings Teddy Thomas and Marvin O’Connor.
But later on Sunday, the French rugby federation (FFR) admitted that Smith was in fact not eligible to play for France, despite having been resident for long enough, as he played a Rugby Sevens match for New Zealand in 2008.
World Rugby’s Regulation 8.2 says: “A Player who has played for the senior… National Representative Sevens Team of a Union is not eligible to play for… another Union.”
A French federation official assured AFP of being in possession of documents attesting to Smith’s eligibility but other sources claimed the FFR had not been diligent enough in studying those documents.
Smith joined up with the national team at its Marcoussis training complex near Paris on Sunday night.
“When he arrived, David told us he’d played an international Sevens tournament in Edinburgh in 2008 for New Zealand,” said an FFR statement.
“For that reason, David is not eligible for the French national XV team due to the international regulations and will be released on Monday morning.”
France have yet to name the new replacement.
Smith has been playing in France since 2011 when he joined Toulon from Western Force.
He also played for Hurricanes and Blues in Super Rugby before moving to Europe.
He left European champions Toulon for Castres at the beginning of this season. – Agence France-Presse