Sam McCulloch – New Changes to Eligibility Rules

There has been numerous complaints about eligibility rules for players of dual heritage or the grandfather rule calling it a farce even by Mr League Freak himself, yet so far we have seen the strongest and closest World Cup yet.

International Eligibility Rule states a player may represent a country if it is their country of their, their parents or any of their grandparent’s country of birth or if that country has been that player’s country of residence up until the date of the player’s selection.

The constant opinion that Rugby League fans have is that you just have to have attended a St Patricks day event to be Irish or have eaten spaghetti to qualify for Italy but according to Daniel Mortimer who was sounded out by Wales didn’t have sufficient documentation to prove he qualified to represent the Welsh.


These are the same rules adopted by the IRB so don’t whine about don’t say Rugby Union do it better because it’s the same rule.

Anyway back to the rules.

Immediately after the conclusion of the Rugby League World Cup the eligibility rules will change, I don’t know whether this will sooth a sore point for anyone but I think it will help the strength of emerging nations and allow them compete yearly and not have to lose players to The Big Three.

Current Rules
For example Michael Jennings, Robbie Farah, Jarryd Hayne, Josh Papali, Danny Brough and Aiden Guerra have dual heritage links to Fiji, Lebanon, Tonga, Scotland, Italy and Samoa but also can represent Australia, England and New Zealand if they choose too, but under current eligibility rules should these players opt for one of The Big Three they can only change back to a emerging nation every World Cup year.

James McManus, Feleti Mateo and John Sutton were ruled out of this World Cup just for making themselves available for NSW selection

New Rules
Under the new structure should Jennings, Hayne, Farah etc not be picked for Australia, New Zealand and England they will automatically eligible to play for any emerging nations that they have heritage links too.
For example Michael Jennings if he isn’t picked for Australia in the Anzac test will be able to play for Tonga against Samoa on the same weekend without jeopardising his selection for NSW.

Also it will allow players like Milford, Sutton, Tupou and Tafua etc who qualify for Origin these players will no longer be forced to choose between a State Of Origin jersey and representing Samoa, Tonga and Fiji etc.

As I said whilst this may not fix peoples burning opinion of eligibility rules you can’t argue the strength it has given to the current World Cup so far and these new changes will make these emerging nations ultimately stronger in the International Arena without State Of Origin pilfering and hoarding all up and coming talent, and possibly lead to a constant representation of these nations on the Rugby League calendar.

The potential of a fixed International calendar usually is dictated by the Kangaroos are doing but with the strength of this World Cup I believe Australia aren’t needed to host a smashing series, look what we could have

-New Zealand vs. Tonga vs. Samoa vs. Fiji vs. PNG vs. Cook Islands end of year Pacific Test Series.

-New Zealand vs. Tonga vs. Samoa vs. Fiji vs. PNG vs. Cook Islands vs. Euro Nations England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy

Or maybe one day played during Origin instead of watered down club games like Melbourne Storm reserve grade vs. Under 20’s Brisbane Broncos, the spectacle of New Zealand vs. Samoa match or Tonga vs. Samoa early in the year match should give you an idea of how entertaining and strong this competition could be.

Whether you disagree I believe this is definitely the way forward to boost the Rugby League as International Sport and one further step to stopping players running to Rugby Union to play in their World Cup.

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