A Delicate Balancing Act Between The AMNRL And USARL

First off let me say this. I don’t have a horse in this race.

I wrote last month about The Split Between The AMNRL and USARL. I can honestly see both sides of the argument. I don’t think the USARL has been formed out of greed, and I do believe the AMNRL has the best interests of the overall game in the United States at heart.

In short, I just think these two sides have different perspectives on how success for the game in the United States should be achieved.

Now today there has been an announcement that players from the break away USARL competition will be eligible to play for the national team, the USA Tomahawks on the proviso that that those players register with the AMNRL or one of the AMNRL’s clubs.

The important part statement reads:

“To give you some insight into player eligibility for the USA Tomahawks, it will be an obligation for all players to be registered with the AMNRL as a member of the league and/or affiliated with a club for the 2011 season. This player registration process is available to everyone.”

Now I asked David Niu directly via Twitter today “Are USARL players eligible for the international side”. His response to me was “I never said anyone was ineligible”.

That’s pretty straight forward.

Now the statement that was released by the AMNRL, I can see how it can be taken negatively. With a split like this, both sides have to be cautious and have their guard up about any interaction they have with one another.

However, soon after the AMNRL’s announcement one of the more powerful clubs in the game in America and a USARL member, the Philadelphia Fight released this statement on their facebook page:

“The Fight support any of our players who are selected to play for the USA Tomahawks. If there a way for players to register and play for the Fight AND also register with the AMNRL to be eligible for the National Team we support this. We would read any “contract” before our players sign, and if it does not restrict their ability to play for the Fight, they can be registered to both leagues and play for the USA.”

I can understand why players need to be registered with the AMNRL to compete for the national team. Its common sense really. I also think its a pretty big concession by the AMNRL to open up eligibility to players from the rival USARL.

If you think back to the Super League split in Australia, the establishment, the ARL, refused to select players that had signed up to the break away Super League competition during the 1995 State Of Origin series and the end of year World Cup.

So this is a concession made by the AMNRL and I think its good to see both sides agree that as long as everything’s above board, the United States Tomahawks national side is off limits in the struggle between the two factions of the game.

So why has the AMNRL made such a big concession by allowing players from the rival competition to play for the Tomahawks?

The AMNRL would be within their rights to exclude USARL players. It would heavily weaken the national team, but they could still do it if they wanted. The AMNRL is the officially sanctioned governing body of the game in the United States as far as the IRLF goes. That means they control the national team and they will be the ones providing the United States representation in the World Cup qualifiers.

To put everything aside and allow everyone to be eligible I think is something the AMNRL should be commended for. Also, for the USARL clubs to be willing to release players to the national side, even though it is controlled by the rival organization, it shows that they too have an eye on doing whats best for the greater good of the game overall.

I think David Niu knows how important it is to qualify for the 2013 World Cup. The game in the United States has got momentum, hell, 10 years ago there wouldn’t have been enough to have the game split over there!

If the United States can qualify (And I think the IRLF created a qualification group that assures this) it would be a massive boost for the game over there as it looks to establish itself as a viable semi professional option for Rugby League players around the world.

The boost the game would get out of a trip to the World Cup outweighs the competition right now between the AMNRL and USARL…and both sides seem to agree on that point at least.

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