Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler has sparked an online debate among rugby fans about player welfare in the Gallagher Premiership. The restarted 2019/20 top-flight season will have seen the loosehead’s club play seven games in 31 days after they finish up at Gloucester next Monday.
That will then extend out to nine games in 51 days by the time their Premiership backlog ends at Leicester on October 4. Marler’s appearance versus Bath last Saturday meant he had started in four of Harlequins’ five matches so far, clocking up 271 minutes on the pitch over a 22-day period.
Although creating a Twitter debate isn’t necessarily a difficult task in this day and age (in fact, anything typed by a celebrity is likely to lead to tonnes of bile in the comments section), Marler’s recent comments have proven inflammatory.
He tweeted: “9 games in 7 weeks……… what a bloody fantastic idea that was,” referring to the game-load that Premiership players currently have. The 30-year-old is certainly not the only player to voice concern.
However, his tweet was like a red rag to a bull to some people with keyboards who were quick to question how much he is paid while also suggesting that he could retire. The Premiership’s five-month rest period between the March stoppage and the August restart was also mentioned.
Comments like this, in turn, evoked another response from fans who agreed with Marler highlighting the physical toll of being a professional rugby player.
Player welfare has been a point of discussion since the Premiership returned last month, and the topic has only intensified given the revelations by former players Dylan Hartley and James Haskell about the state of their bodies in retirement.
Hartley’s recently released book explained the price he paid with his body, an issue which Haskell expanded upon on here on RugbyPass and on his podcast. Being a player that has never shied away from voicing his opinion, Marler, who himself is publishing a book next month, has now provided his views in typical terse fashion.
Yet while players will inevitably succumb to injury during this intense schedule, the true effects of this season may only come to light in the next campaign or beyond, particularly when looking at the calendar that lies ahead for some players that are aspiring to play for the British and Irish Lions in 2021.
He’s not playing in all 9 games and when he does play he only plays about 50/60 mins,so no issue really!! He could allways retire again????
— michael scott (@michael79109584) September 7, 2020
& how much do you get paid? Get on with it!
— Mike Wilson (@mike_wilson11) September 7, 2020
Not the same level as you but played 7 games in just over 24 days once at end of season and had a full time job so sure you can do it
— Stephen bolam (@bolam12) September 7, 2020
Try telling that to the squaddies who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and are still operating around the world. Or to the family of PC Harper who didn’t come home after his shift. I love rugby but comments like this stink of football…
— haveiboredyouyet? (@Any1_listening) September 7, 2020
Nobody forces them to choose professional rugby, they seem to enjoy the lifestyle and money etc that comes with playing at the time .
— Adam Warwick (@AdamWarwick86) September 7, 2020
Everyone on this thread saying “get on with it, how much do you get paid” obviously never played any competitive or serious sport past 3rd year of school, and probably only train their drinking arms.
— Chris Kirk (@ChrisKirk_ASP) September 7, 2020
Loving the response from some clowns.
I need a good 3 months between games to give me time to forget how much I hurt for the week afterwards! ??
— Sharpy (@gingersharpy) September 7, 2020
Everyone telling @JoeMarler to ‘Get on with it’ or ‘I played x amount of games at Ametuer level’, but not actually stopping to think his point might be more that teams can’t field their strongest side for every match which means possibly a lower league position than planned for.
— Ashley Lehec (@AshleyLehec) September 7, 2020
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