'The Welsh, Scots and Irish need the English a lot more than the English need them'
Sam Warburton has made a bold proposal to create a two-tier British and Irish league in order to promote player welfare, but says persuading England to join is the major hurdle preventing this from happening.
The two-time British and Irish Lions captain recently suggested this new league format in The Times, where he said the vast quantity of games played at the moment will be replaced by fewer games of a greater quality given the teams that will comprise the league.
After being forced to retire through injury in 2018, player safety is paramount to Warburton and he has emphasised that players should play a maximum of 25 games a season, including international fixtures. This could be achieved by having two twelve-team leagues in which the members of each league will play each other once in a regular season, totalling eleven matches, with play-offs on top.
The Welshman also said the European competitions should become a knockout tournament instead of the current format with pool stages.
“I actually think the problem is a wider issue about the number of games played.” the 2013 and 2017 Lions captain said.
“I have always said that there should be a maximum of 25 matches a season for each player, including international games.
“If you have the best possible product out there, then there will be less need for so many matches. You should be able to sell a better product more easily and therefore make more money.
“I just don’t think the leagues are structured properly. The truth is that we need a two-tier British and Irish league, but the problem is that the Welsh, Scots and Irish need the English a lot more than the English need them.
“I remember players saying that they would take pay cuts to play fewer games. That is why I am so adamant on less game time.”
Rugby in Europe has already gone through its share of shake-ups in recent years with the United Rugby Championship soon to start its inaugural season with the inclusion of the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers from South Africa.
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