England versus France match limits update and whether Test counts on player totals

Aaron Bower
England rugby league team in 2023

England’s Test in France this weekend will not count towards the ongoing match limits total that has been introduced into the sport this year, Love Rugby League has learned.

As part of the major law changes introduced to the sport for 2024, the Rugby Football League confirmed all professional players would be subject to match limits, which effectively set a cap on how many minutes they can play in a set period of time.

In a 12-month period, forwards over 22 will be limited to 25 full game equivalents – which equates to 2,000 minutes of rugby. Backs over 22 will be limited to 30 full game equivalents in a 12-month period: 2,400 minutes.

For forwards 22 or younger, the limit will be 20 full game equivalents, while backs in that age bracket are allowed 25 full game equivalents. Players 18 or under have an even lower match limit: forwards have 15 full game equivalents and backs 20.

The RFL are, Love Rugby League understands, monitoring player limits as the season goes on with a live system and that clubs are managing player workloads to ensure they are not without key players for the business end of the season.

EXPLAINER: How the RFL’s new rules on ‘match limits’ capping players’ game-time will work in 2024

And it has been confirmed that this weekend’s Test match in France will not count towards those totals. That is, in large part, due to the fact that the mid-season international window fixture wasn’t confirmed when the match limits began.

However, that would likely change in the years ahead, with fixtures to be confirmed well in advance.

But for this summer at least, England and France’s players know however many minutes they feature in this weekend will not count towards their totals, inching them closer to reaching their limit for any 12-month period.

Whether or not the limits become an issue at the business end of the season remains to be seen, but there is some good news for clubs worrying whether or not their players would accrue minutes towards that limit this weekend, with confirmation that the Test match will be exempt from the totals.

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