|Shawn Pittman is a player that could use a European passport to get a contract.|
TIAR: Great question and one that will have to be answered in a couple of parts. First the technical part. Any player can get a visa to play in England if they have started for their country. It doesn't matter what nationality. That said, the Kolpak rule that does make it easier to come from Africa or the Pacific Islands to play. Basically it means that any player from a country that has signed an agreement with the European Union has the same right to work in that country as an EU resident. Almost exclusively those agreements are with countries whose citizens are poor. That's why U.S. players have a harder time.
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Having a European passport is extremely helpful as well. That is why you saw Paul Emerick take out an Italian passport and why other players use their Islands or European connections to get contracts. If a player is not a Kolpak player that means the club would have to use one of its foreign spots. With the number of talented players from New Zealand and Australia it can be hard for an American to get a contract. Because Canada is a member of the Commonwealth it is easier for them to work in the United Kingdom.
Now to part two of the question. Competitions like the Premiership don't have restrictions on the number of foreign players but they have incentives for teams to field England-eligible players. If a team fields so many England-qualified players for so many weeks during a season they receive a hefty financial bonus. So while it's not a strict quota it's one cash-strapped teams likely need. Other regions, like Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, are interested in developing players for their national teams.
SJSUVC1: Who has a better chance to succeed, the NRFL or the Pacific Rugby Premiership?
TIAR: That's an easy one, the Pacific Rugby Premiership. Why? Because they have actually done something. Issuing fancy logos and saying you are contacting cut NFL players is nice but it doesn't mean it's going to happen. Think about what kind of capital the NRFL needs just to get started. They need to have a salary that is competitive with the other options out there. Arena Football salaries aren't high but CFL salaries can be $80,000 a year. So for the NRFL to at least compete with the CFL for cut NFL players they have to have something competitive. I simply don't see them coming up with that type of money.
On the other hand, the Pacific Rugby Premiership is ready to go without clubs investing any more money than they were already going to invest. Essentially the league can only go up in terms of sponsorship money. Eventually, if the competition grows, you could see teams start to pay some players. But right now it's simply a club competition.
Another things (a bit of rant here I guess), people want to watch quality, no matter what the sport. Why do Americans tune into the NFL, MLB, and the NBA? Because they are the best leagues in the world for their sport. The English Premier League gets far better ratings than MLS because people want to watch the best. I hope the NRFL can work and find good players but I just don't believe that sending out a bunch of guys with only minimal rugby experience will be a good product. Sure they will be great athletes but that doesn't make the game interesting to watch. Most likely the match will be full of errors and fans not sure of what's going on. That's not really an enjoyable experience. If they wanted to go see a big hit they could watch YouTube. Further, why would a name player from overseas want to come play in the league if his teammates don't know proper techniques? It could lead to a career-ending injury.
SJSUVC1: If the NRFL or the Pacific Rugby Premiership are successful, will we see either dip into women's rugby and create their own version of the NWSL?
TIAR: It would be great to see but I doubt it. Women's sports is hardly a money maker and I'm not sure rugby would ever be big enough to have enough money to invest in the women's game.
Random Commentor: Would be interesting to know what happened to some of the crossovers and rugby players who were capped by the sevens team, but then disappeared, like Bennie Brazell, Tommy Saunders, Marco Barnard...
TIAR: Bennie Brazell played in the UFL and is now the men's sprints and hurdles assistant coach for Louisiana State.Tommy Saunders now runs his own work out service in Missouri. No club what Marco Bernard is doing. It's interesting to think about. Great question.
SJSUVC1: When's the next podcast?
TIAR: It's coming. I would love to do it more regularly but the schedule isn't allowing it right now.
SJSUVC1: Why doesn't U.S.A. Rugby create a channel on ROKU?
TIAR: They don't have the money or resources (man power).