Well the World Cup Countdown has begun and if you are following some of the squad selections at the moment you will find that some players are being named in more than one squad.
Because this kind of muddies the waters, the RLIF (See ARL via an fancy letterhead) decided to clear things up.
The have restated the international eligibility rules, and by international eligibility rules, I mean they told everyone to pick and choose who they want to play for and don’t worry about no stinking rules, because none actually exist!
A player can take part in an international match for the country of his birth; the country his parents or any of his grandparents were born in; and his principal country of residence for a period of three years up to his selection date.
Selection is also permitted for the country a player has representated international rugby league in at any age level prior to the introduction of the RLIF’s constitution in 1998, or for a country where he has gained senior international honours in any sport.
Where a player is eligible for more than one country a choice must be made – this is deemed to have occurred once selection in a team is accepted by the individual. Until that point he is available for more than one nation.
Now lets count how many countries a player at the extreme end of these stupid rules could play for.
1. The country he was born in.
2. The country his father was born in.
3. The country his mother was born in.
4. The country his fathers father was born in.
5. The country his fathers mother was born in.
6. The country his mother father was born in.
7. The country his mothers mother was born in.
8. The country he has lived in for three years.
9. The country he has represented at international level in any other sport.
10. Any country he has played international Rugby League for in the past.
So a player has no less than TEN options to choose who he wants to play for. Fantastic! There are only ten bloody teams in the World Cup! Hell, I’m as Australian as you will get, but even I qualify for four different countries under these stupid rules, two of which I have never been to!
Some stupid tools will fall back on the old “But League Freak, other sports do the same thing” argument. Well quite frankly I don’t give a flying Sonny Bill Williams what other sports are doing…..all I care about is what Rugby League is doing.
As it stands the way it all works is like this:
Everyone waits for Australia to pick their side. If you miss out on the final Australian squad, you look at who else you can get a run with.
In New Zealand, the same applies. They get anyone born south of the equator who doesn’t decide to play for Australia.
Once Australia and New Zealand have been selected, the Tonga, Fiji and Samoa fight over the rest. Then there is PNG, who pick anyone born north of the Australian mainland.
In the Northern Hemisphere, everyone waits for the England squad to be selected. They have their pick of anyone playing in the Northern Hemisphere.
After that, Scotland, Wales and Ireland pick up the English scraps.
France picks any Aussies it can find with a French sounding name, a few longer term imports that have flown in and been there a while, and then fill out the squad with, you know, people born and raised France.
And you wonder why the international game is a running joke?
The best part of all of this is that some countries are trying to get around even the flimsy rules listed above!
Remember when New Zealand selected Nathan Fien on the old “Grandparent” rule? Well the media found out that it was actually Fiens GREAT grandparents that were New Zealanders. He knew that, and the NZRL knew that….but they decided to cheat anyway.
Well other countries are still trying to make a similar hazy connection between “Grandparents” and “Great, great, great, great, great Grandparents”!
I don’t know about you, but I know my Grandparents and what countries they were born in. For players and administrators to claim ignorance on this issue is pathetic.
So as you can see, when it comes to international eligibility in Rugby League, the rules are, there are no rules.
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