You’ve got to wonder about Rugby League administrators sometimes….
Rugby League International Federation secretary Andrew Hill has suggest that in an effort to provide the best World Cup possible, the RLIF would be willing to allow the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall to play in the World Cup even if that meant they were not contracted to any Rugby League team:
“If Sonny hasn’t got a registered contract with the NRL, I don’t see that as being a reason for him not to participate in the Rugby League 2013 World Cup.”
While Andrew Hill might not see a problem in this scenario, I do.
If Rugby League starts opening the door to it’s representative teams to players who are not even contracted to the code, what is to stop an international side from drafting in an entire team of Rugby Union players to participate on their behalf?
That might sound far fetched, but right now we are already seeing “international” teams that will participate in this years World Cup drafting players into their sides that were born and raised in other countries.
If a team such as Italy is willing to bring in the likes of Anthony Minicheillo, Terry Campese, Shaun Berrigan, Craig Gower and Anthony Laffranchi, all born and raised in Australia, it is not a huge stretch to suggest that they would also be willing to draft in Rugby Union players as well.
So why is that a problem?
If you are an Italian born and raised player that competes in the Italian Rugby League competition, you should get the opportunity to represent your nation if yo are good enough. Sure you might not be a superstar, but this is a representative team, and as a real Italian Rugby League player, you are the very best representative of your nations Rugby League playing ability.
If an Italian player, who loves the game just as much as you or I, see’s that their place in a World Cup team is being taken by Aussies, Kiwis and now possibly even Rugby Union players, how do you think that will make them feel? What does that do for promoting the game at the grass roots in these countries?
If Sonny Bill Williams or Benji Marshall are not willing to commit themselves to Rugby League, why would Rugby League be willing to commit places at what should be it’s most prestigious event to them? Shouldn’t these places go to players that are actually committed to Rugby League?
These jerseys should mean something. They should hold some sort of value. If our sport is willing to hand these jerseys over so easily, why should Rugby League expect anyone to value the international game?
As I have said many times before, when Rugby League places such little value on representative football, it should not be shocked when no one else places any value on it’s representative football either.
When we have the RLIF itself undermining Rugby League, what chance does the game have! How can a professional administrator like Andrew Hill, someone that draws a salary from the game, be so blind to the consequences that a loophole like this would open up!
Rugby League is a game that is rife with people in power that are only concerned about their own self interest. When coaches take over an international side, they don’t give a damn about that nations interests. All they care about is putting together the best lineup they possible can under the rules that are presented to them.
Rugby Leagues ridiculous eligibility rules already make a mockery of the sport. We see supposed representative teams filled with Australians and New Zealanders. We seen lineups of players that do not represent the nation they are playing for. A franchise system with teams running around pretending to be playing for a nation they don’t even come from.
If coaches can draft in players from outside the game, they will. We will watch the people in power devaluing the game to the point where players from smaller Rugby League playing nations will simply give up and turn their attention to different sports. Sports that will value their participation.
I’m not a professional administrator, but if I can sit here in my lounge room and in five minutes sum up why it would be a terrible decision to allow non Rugby League contracted players to participate in the World Cup, why can’t Andrew Hill figure it out.
With administrators like this…who needs enemies…
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com