The Rugby League international Federation has issued a staunch defence of its eligibility rules in the face of criticism in some quarters over recent national selections.

CEO David Collier said “After proper review and consultation the Board amended the eligibility rules in 2016 for international rugby league, to ensure the very best players in the world had the very best opportunity of playing in the elite world competitions. At the same time the Board tightened the residence qualifications to five years to ensure that players could only qualify by birth or heritage in the years between a World Cup cycle.”

Players holding dual eligibility under the old rules could have played one match for a nation which would have precluded them from participation in the World Cup. RLIF fully respects the choice of a player concerning which eligible nation they wish to represent and also respects the choice of nations to select players based on their commitment to that nation.   These are obviously matters for individual nations and individual players but the rules were amended to create opportunities to compete. The forthcoming World Cup will be enhanced by having stronger nations from 1 to 14 as a consequence, delivering high levels of excitement and entertainment for everyone.

The World Cup is a celebration which brings together the world’s best players and therefore the objective of the Board is to ensure that the best players in the world are available and not precluded from a World Cup if they meet the eligibility criteria.