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Players' union set for talks

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International Rugby Players to tackle World Rugby on its World League plans

The International Rugby Players Council is to meet again next week to further discuss any proposed global tournament, as well as plans to ensure a more meaningful and effective engagement with World Rugby.

International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein said: “Our players are incredibly passionate about having their voices heard, not just in relation to the proposed international season, but in respect of all player issues that impact the men’s, women’s, 15s and 7s game.

“We have an agreement with World Rugby which requires meaningful engagement on key player welfare issues. However, too often information fails to be provided in a manner that allows players to realistically influence the outcome.

“For the benefit of our game and to ensure we avoid situations where players feel they have to take a public stand, the relationship with World Rugby and the basis upon which we interact on key issues needs to be a lot more meaningful and effective. This will be central to our discussions when we meet as a team next week,” said Hassanein.

Ahead of this meeting, International Rugby Players will meet with World Rugby on Monday to discuss the relationship with the governing body as well as the specific issues raised by leading players last week.

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Johnny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Kieran Read have warned of serious “player welfare and integrity concerns” around World Rugby’s proposed competition structure for the global game. Their concerns were raised following the release of further details of the World League and how it will be run. 

While senior players have consistently voiced their support for the concept, ongoing concerns exist around the detail of the competition format that has been taken to market in recent months.

The International Rugby Players Council of almost 40 players spoke via conference call last week to discuss the potential 12-year deal, with nine of the world’s top ten international team captains dialing in.

Senior players from around the globe were united in their concern about the proposed format, in relation to:

  • Player load challenges from multiple top-level test matches in different countries and time-zones in consecutive weeks;
  • Increased long-haul travel in short time frames;
  • A lack of real opportunities for tier two nations to progress;
  • Increased conflicts between country and club demands and regulation nine release periods;
  • Potential impact on Rugby World Cup and Lions tours;
  • The long-term quality and integrity of the international game.
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International Rugby Players to tackle World Rugby on its World League plans