Opinion: should players face visa issues?

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This week has seen rumblings that certain Hull KR players are struggling in their attempts to be granted visas in order to travel to play their second match in The Qualifiers away to Toronto. It begs the question that, with KR players playing under the same governance as the Wolfpack – the RFL’s jurisdiction – should this even be an issue.

Surely it would be a level playing field if a player can be eligible to play a match under the RFL’s purview in one country then they should be eligible to do so in another. Otherwise, all it seems to do is create an uneven playing field – one which, it should be pointed out, isn’t done by the Wolfpack – where clubs aren’t able to travel to Canada with necessarily their best players.

This isn’t a problem solely for those in Canada. There were rumours when Kenny Edwards joined Catalans Dragons that, as a result of his previous convictions in Australia, he wouldn’t – or wasn’t – able to secure the right to play rugby league on a permanent basis in the UK, instead only able to travel to the country to play away matches. Again, this seems to be an unfair advantage those in France may receive due to rules away from rugby league.

While some bemoan the fact that rugby clubs sign players with criminal records, the fact remains that the fact they can play in some countries but can’t – despite both being under the governance of the same organisation – is one that the RFL should look into, especially if the current appetite for expanding the sport into new countries intensifies.

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