Game seeks way to cut number of overseas players

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The Independent Online

Rugby league is looking at possible ways of reducing the number of overseas players in the British game following the national side's failure in this year's Tri-Nations.

The quantity of imports in Super League - currently averaging around eight per club - has been cited as one of the reasons for a Great Britain squad with limited options in several positions failing to reach the final of the tournament.

The League's chief operating officer, Nigel Wood, admitted yesterday that there is a problem, but one that is hard to remedy in view of legal pitfalls like the Kolpak ruling. "We are looking at ways we can respond to it without breaking the law," he said. "It's not that we are suddenly against overseas players, but it's all about balance."

The League's executive chairman, Richard Lewis, confirmed that the 2008 World Cup will be played in the southern hemisphere in March. That will mean a later start to the Super League season, with the possibility that it might be reduced to 22 games, on a simple home and away basis.

The following season will see England host a Tri Nations tournament with a Great Britain tour to the southern hemisphere planned for 2010.

This year's Tri Nations made what has been described as "a modest profit", despite Great Britain not reaching the final.

"It will be less than the £700,000 profit last year, but we are still pleased with it," Wood said.

The League is adamant that next year's Challenge Cup final will be at Wembley as planned, despite the Football Association's doubts about it being ready for its Cup final.

"Ticket sales are very, very strong," Lewis said. "It's well ahead of where we would expect to be."