Unlike football, rugby has no shortage of qualified England players, with 70% of Premiership players eligible, compared to Gareth Southgate`s 30% of the Premier League. A kolpak player, or Kolpak, is a term used in the United Kingdom for players of the national cricket leagues and the two overseas rugby codes, subject to the Kolpak judgment. The ECB has always banned Kolpak players from playing an international sport at the same time. Conversely, the RFU allows Kolpak players to play international rugby. In 2008, the EU changed its interpretation of the Cotonou Agreement (association agreement between the EU and ACP countries).  The Commission found that the Cotonou agreement should not be interpreted as a free movement of workers, but as a free trade in goods and services. Subsequently, the Ministry of the Interior was able to introduce new rules limiting Kolpak players and stated that only those who had a valid work permit for four years would have the right to be treated in the same way as EU citizens.  The RFU added that it was also “working with rugby and government players to ensure that the knockout phases of the Heineken Champions and Challenge Cup and other matches likely to be affected by Brexit can go ahead as planned.” Former Welsh flanker Brett Sinkinson is set to sue the Welsh Rugby Union for a loss of around 150,000 $US. The New Zealander has not been paid by Neath since May, although his contract lasts two years.
Neath is owned by Gower Park Ltd, a subsidiary of the WRU. Sinkinson has not offered a regional contract and with the Welsh rugby club only offering semi-professional terms, Neath does not have the option to pay him. Currently, any player holding an EU passport or an associated nation`s passport, such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga or South Africa, through the Cotonou Agreement, is not considered a foreign player in English rugby. They have the same rights and ability to work in the country as an English player and should not be subject to quotas. They are regularly referred to as `kolpak players`, a term derived from Maroa Kolpak`s successful action against the rights of an EU worker as a citizen of a country with an association agreement with the EU.