How hard can this be?

By Daniel Andruczyk

So when I read Steve Mascord’s post “Eligibility rules tightened for league” I naturally got very excited. Finally had the powers that be woken up and decided to follow the rest of the world and actually stop players from swapping and changing nations … alas ‘sigh’ no.

In what adds continued frustration to the international side of rugby league, Colin Love et. al. at the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) have “tightened” the eligibility rules for rugby league. In the article Macord says that this “Could mean the Kiwis will not be able to call up many players from the Pacific nations in future” Oh really, what about Australia? I do hope the same happens for them. Why do we always single out the Kiwis… in fact the worst perpetrators tend to be the Pacific Island Nations when it comes to abusing the rules. So Colin Love, the Chairman of the RLIF says:

“We have tightened it up a little – once you play in a World Cup qualifier for one country, you cannot switch to another for the World Cup,” he goes on “There won’t be the provision to apply to change. It just won’t be permitted.”

In reality this wont effect anything, basically the big 3 or 4 teams will still be able to get the cream of the crop. What this means is that say in the Pacific Cup that finished recently players from those nations still can play for Australia or New Zealand if they so wish since these were not World Cup matches – Qualifying or finals! So this swapping and changing will be able to continue right up until 2012 when the qualifiers begin.

Now here is the technicality, anyone who plays for Australia or New Zealand, actually any country that has direct qualification into the world cup, can still make a swap to another country in this period. If they don’t get selected in the world cup squad then they can make that swap, since the automatic qualifying nations don’t play any World Cup qualifying games in the lead up.

So in essence … nothing has changed, the same old same old still applies. But what will be interesting to see if the RLIF actually enforces these new “eligibility rules”.

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