Laws / Regulations


The laws of rugby league

The laws of Rugby League have been the responsibility of the RLIF since its formation in 1998.

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© Rugby League International Federation 2015. These Laws may not be reproduced or translated in whole or in part without the permission of the Rugby League International Federation.

International eligibility

3. Eligibility for International Rugby League 

3.1   A player is eligible to play an International Match for:-

(a)  the country in which he was born;

(b)  the country in which either of his parents or any of his grandparents was born;

(c)  the country which has been his principal place of residence for a period of three years up to the date of his selection;

(d)  the country that he has represented pursuant to paragraph 3.2 (irrespective of whether that country continues to be his principal place of residence) provided that he has not subsequently represented any other country pursuant to Rule 3.3 below.

3.2 A player shall not be treated as having his principal residence in a country for the purpose of Rule 3.1(c) if he has not been present in that country for nine months in any period of twelve months during the three years up to the date of his selection.

3.3 A player who is eligible to play for more than one country shall be entitled to elect for which country he wishes to play.  When a player plays a Senior International Match for a country, he is deemed to have elected to play for that country.  Subject to Rule 3.5, once an election is made the player may not play Senior representative rugby league for any other country until the end of the next World Cup tournament, or the expiry of two years, whichever is earlier (“Election Period”).

3.4 After the expiry of an Election Period, the player may elect to play for another country if he is eligible, but once he so elects (or is deemed to elect by playing in a Senior International Match) he may not play for another country until the expiry of another Election Period.

3.5 During an Election Period, a player may change from one country to another for which he is eligible pursuant to Rule 3.1, with the approval of the Federation (but he may only change once in each Election Period).

3.6 A player may not change their National Team during any Federation sanctioned International Tournament (including any qualification matches played as part of that International Tournament) in which that player is participating.

3.7 The burden of proof in establishing eligibility is on the player and the National Team that they wish to represent. If a player plays an International Match for a National Team which he is not eligible to represent, both the player and the National Team which selected him shall be guilty of misconduct.

3.8 Where a player considers that he is eligible to join a National Team squad on the basis of Rule 3.1 above, before he first joins that squad, he shall provide proof of his eligibility to the National Team wishing to select him. In the case of eligibility under Rule 3.1(a) and (b), the player shall provide the National Team with a copy of the relevant birth certificate and/or passport stating place of birth.

3.9 Where a player is not able to provide a copy of the relevant birth certificate and/or passport, the matter shall be referred to the Rules of the Game Committee and the player shall only be entitled to represent the National Team if they can provide satisfactory evidence to the Rules of the Game Committee that the player is eligible to do so. Save in extreme circumstances affidavits by a player will not be considered as satisfactory evidence. 

3.10 National Teams shall, promptly upon request, provide the Federation with a copy of any evidence they have relied on pursuant to Rule 3.1 to 3.2. Where a National Team fails to do so, or the Federation do not consider the evidence satisfactory, the relevant player shall not be entitled to represent the National Team.

3.11 In the circumstances set out in Rule 3.10 above or in the event of the eligibility of a player to play for a National Team being uncertain or in dispute, upon the written request of any Member, Affiliate or Associate Member to the Chairman it shall be referred to the Rules of the Game Committee for determination.

3.12 The National Team which wished to select the player in question may appeal the decision of the Rules of the Game Committee to the RLIF Board. The decision of the RLIF Board shall be final and binding and not subject to appeal.