Uate’s Selection Shows What’s Wrong in Rugby League

By Daniel Andruczyk

Its silly season again, where New South Wales and Queensland take each other on in that Civil War that is State of Origin. However what many don’t realise is that State of Origin has basically become a somewhat crusade of mercenary players. Players who are ditching their nation of heritage to basically get a fatter pay check. Of course I am referring to Akiula Uate’s selection for the Country and then the NSW Blues team.

Selection Criteria

His selection means that he now officially has switched his allegiance to Australia from Fiji. You see to play State of Origin you can only be eligible for Australia. Don’t believe me, I found a couple references on this, and also has an example with Neville Costigan.:

Under State of Origin rules players are selected for the state in which they first played senior (or registered) rugby league.[19] Players must also be eligible to represent Australia at international level.

The current rules for eligibility for Origin and developing nations, from the NSWRL:

“The current rules are that if a player appears for a developing nation in a Test then he is ineligible for Origin. This has to be seen within the time frame between World Cup tournaments, the next of which is due in 2013.

For eg, Neville Costigan who has represented PNG in the past, is not eligible for the Kumuls at the end of the year as he has appeared in this year’s Origin series.”

So we punish Neville because he played his junior Rugby League in Queensland and wants to play Origin, so we won’t let him represent his country of heritage at the end of the year, unless its within World Cup time, then the rules are ‘relaxed’ so he can play for the Kumuls.

Hard to follow, isn’t it?

So, when Uate runs onto that field next Wednesday, Fiji Bati will officially loose probably one of their biggest weapons for the 2013 world Cup. Uate has now done his one switch and cannot do another one till after the World Cup.

How has this situation come about?

In Reality the RLIF does not really exist. Its there in name and somewhere on the back of some napkin, but in reality its the ARL/NRL running the show. You just need to look at the conflicts of interest that are in the RLIF

  • Chairman: Colin Love – ARL/NSWRL
  • Vice- Chairman: Richard Lewis – RFL/Super League
  • Treasurer: David Gallop – NRL/ARL
  • Executive Member: Scott Carter – NZRL

Now I am not saying that these people are bad in any way. I am sure they are probably great to be with, but there is absolutely no way you can have an unbiased and conflict free interest in the international sport when you are a sitting member of a national federation. It is clearly seen with some of the more recent decisions made by the “RLIF” that clearly draws a line between Australia and everyone else.

Some of those decisions are the fact that only Australia has the special rules that it plays by, that is with the two refs and 10 man interchange and the corner posts noy being relevant and a few other things. But basicaly there are three sets of Rugby league rules that are used. Australia, International and then everyone else. They all vary in different ways, and some may think its not a big change but its enough to put others at a disadvantage. I even recently found out that there are no defined set of international laws for how the video referee is to make decisions. Apparently in internationals there is no “ref’s call” like in the NRL and super league.

I think the biggest thing though is that State of Origin is still in its mid season part, its a remnant of when you had the mid season tours and SoO was the trial for the national team. Hence why the rules are such that you need to be eligible for Australia and no one else to play State of Origin, because back in the old days, pre 96 and the Super League war not long after State of Origin you had internationals. Now that is not the case and so it has grown to be the Gorilla in the room.

It even impinges on the NRL. How many times do you see fans and clubs complaining about the poor quality of the NRL because teams have lost so many of their Stars? Every year, and you get the call for stand alone weeks or weekend matches etc…

Its Official.

Now you may think that I am ranting on (probably am a bit) and how do I know this is the case with Uates not being abel to play for the Bati. Well last night I spoke with Tas Baitiri on the phone and I asked him straight up the question “With Uate being selected for NSW, does this mean he CANNOT PLAY for the Fiji Bati in the 2013 World Cup?” Tas’ answer was short and sweet “YES”.

Does Nothing for the Game.

People go on about how State of Origin is great for international Rugby League and helps spread it. That is the biggest load of horse manure I have ever heard. Consider these points:

  1. If State of Origin was so great why is it that basically no other country picks it up to show on any FTA broadcaster and it usually gets dumped on some small time TV network. In the end in the 30+ years of State of Origin there is no other country on the face of this earth that says that “We started playing Rugby League because of State of Origin”. I can tell you this, having worked with many nations over the last 5 years State of Origin has nothing to do with it and in fact most have no idea what it is till I explain it to them, and even then the reactions is “nyeh”. Why would a country like Germany give a damn about two States in a country 10,000km away? The answer is they don’t.
  2. Money, none of the money that State of Origin generates goes into the international game… and why should it? Its an Australian Provincial game and not an international and so its money quite rightly stays with it. Also the profits generated probably aren’t that substantial, certainly not enough to just give it away to an organisation that barely exists.
  3. State of Origin does absolutely nothing for the sport in Australia! If it did then by now we should have NRL teams in every state with home grown and up an coming players. The fact that even after 13 years of being in the competition, the Melbourne Storm don’t even have any home grown player in their team, or even look like having any any time soon. You’d think that by now if State of Origin such a “great” way to promote the sport that people would by now have jumped on board in droves? Nope, even Melbourne one of the most successful NRL teams in recent memory along with State of Origin being taken on the road to Melbourne has not done much more to further the sport. Hell it doesn’t even get shown live anywhere else in Australia. the fact of the matter is that out side of NSW and QLD no one else gives a stuff about, well NSW and QLD. Why would a West Australian or Tasmanian or Victorian get excited about a game that involves no one from their own state?


Well over the years I have put out many a solution to how the International game can be revived. One is to kill off Origin in its current form. It is what is holding us back internationally as a sport at the moment. People need to make the Internationals relevant again, fans, journalists and administrators and the clubs need to realise that in order to make money and grown you need to have a viable and well supported international season. It should not matter weather Australia is playing New Zealand, or England or the USA, these need to all be considered full internationals, people should fill out stadiums in their tens of thousands to support their nation and help spread the sport.

Now the people that come on here and forums like rleagu and League Unlimited are not the ones to blame. They all see the need to drive the international game, however they only make up a tiny percentage of the over all fans. In the end fans only care about their club and see everything else as mickey mouse. If not careful we will see Rugby League go the way of baseball. Where one country dominates with their professional sport and will not send any of their top players to any international competition that gets played, thus the world cup/championships become just a curious blip on the radar. The way things are going, State of Origin rather than promoting the sport is in danger of isolating it even further

Another solution is that prestige needs to be brought back into the internationals. This means that there needs to be a concise set of tournaments that are played through the four year cycle that build up to the World Cup. Each tournament has a significance in that it is a qualifier for the next level up. So you would start with Regional tournaments that would qualify teams for an intercontinental tournaments that then qualifies them through to the world cup. This means that every game right down to the qualifiers to the regional tournaments are basically World Cup qualifiers as well. Nations and teams have the end goal, they know what they are playing for and the top stars now knowing that they have relevant and meaningful tournaments will stick with their nations of origin. Also with these matches being qualifiers means that they cant nation swap… stopping in one swoop all the silly shenanigans we get now.

As a side now to the point above, each regional tournament also has the top teams play. That means in a Pacific Cup the Aussies and Kiwis will play. So Fijians will get to play against the best and many a time this is why players switch because outside of the world cup every 4 years, they never get to play the Aussies or Kiwis. England of course will play the European Cup.

Lastly (for this article, but i probably will write another more specific article down the track) the RLIF, the ruling body of our sport “world wide” needs to become independent and professional. As I explained to Tas and others in the RLIF, what’s better $5 million over 5 years or have a group of people that are bringing in $5 million every year? the world Cup profits should have gone into establishing and paying a professional executive committee of people that know how to run a business and make money through various means. These people cannot have any conflicts of interest by sitting on the boards of any national federation and certainly not on the ARL/NRL/RFL. I am not saying we cannot have an Aussie or Brit ruin things, I am not even saying we cant have someone that is not knowledgeable on the sport. What I am saying is that these people need to know how to run a business and make money without relying on handouts from the two big nations, which is what happens now basically. They cant have positions of power on other rugby league boards where they have a conflict in what is good for the Club/state vs. Country.

Right now Colin Love and Co. basically are paid by the ARL/RFL/NZRL and so which countries give the “handouts” to the RLIF, Australia, New Zealand and England…. and who gets all the dodgy eligibility criteria that help them out? Australia, New Zealand and England. So Why would Colin Love and David Gallop bite the hands that feed them? Of course they will always make decisions that will help them out because that where their pay checks come from. This is what we need to get rid of.


Anyway weather you agree with me or not, I hope that there is a lot of food for thought in here for you. Its something I feel very passionately about and hopefully we can get some good debate going on this topic.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:
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