Player resistance to 'global season'

Mon, 22 May 2017 12:31
Large rpa logo 2 800

REACTION: England's Rugby Players' Association hit out at what it said was a "detrimental" plan to extend the top-flight Premiership season by a month.

The players' unions, speaking in the wake of the announcement of changes to the global season, said the changes to the Premiership were not "viable" and would put international players especially under "incredible strain".

There have long been concerns about the toll an increasingly physical and fast-paced professional game is taking on players, with worries about concussion-related injuries a particular issue.

At the same time, there has been an attempt to bring greater harmony between club and international fixtures worldwide, with Rugby Union traditionally a winter sport in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

In March, World Rugby, the sport's governing body, unveiled plans for a new global calendar for 2020 onwards which will include shifting the June Test window back to July to allow the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby season to run uninterrupted.

But that threw up the possibility that, in effect, leading European-based players could be left with an 11-month season.

In a strongly-worded statement, the RPA said that, while disappointed to learn of league organisers Premiership Rugby's plans via a press release in March, they had invited them to present their proposals in more detail to the RPA Players' Board on Wednesday, May 10.

"However, after due consideration, the Board unanimously rejected these proposals in their current form," the RPA statement said.

"Extending an already arduous season from nine months to ten has serious implications for players, given the potential increase to the game, training and psychological loads they face."

Saying it had fought hard for the introduction of a mandatory five-week off-season break in the standard Premiership contract, the RFA insisted players also needed an "extensive" pre-season period to get ready for the demands of a league campaign.

The RPA said Test stars, who already face a gruelling schedule, would be particularly badly hit by the proposed changes.

"Perhaps most worryingly is the incredible strain these proposals would place on international players.

"If the Premiership season retains its current start date, the addition of a July tour schedule will lead to an 11-month season for these players.

"This cannot be avoided unless these players start their domestic season later, which brings into question the need for the season extension.

"Whilst we also acknowledge that the reduction of overlaps between international and domestic rugby is desirable, we do not believe the current proposals are viable."

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 22 September 2017
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 15h30 Bloemfontein
Cheetahs v Leinster 18h00 Bloemfontein
Glasgow Warriors v Munster 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Ulster v Dragons 18h35 Kingspan Stadium
Gloucester v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Kingsholm
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Sat, 23 September 2017
Sharks v Blue Bulls 13h00 Durban
Bath v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Recreation Ground
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Saracens v Sale Sharks 14h00 Allianz Park
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 14h15 Sportsground
Western Province v Griquas 15h15 Newlands
Kings v Zebre 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 24 September 2017
London Irish v Northampton Saints 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 14h00 Sandy Park
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 11
Wasps 3 2 0 1 10
Saracens 3 2 0 1 9
Newcastle Falcons 3 2 0 1 9
Harlequins 3 2 0 1 9
Northampton Saints 3 2 0 1 9
Bath 3 2 0 1 8
Sale Sharks 3 1 0 2 7
Leicester Tigers 3 1 0 2 5
Gloucester 3 1 0 2 5
London Irish 3 1 0 2 5
Worcester Warriors 3 0 0 3 0