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World Rugby hits back at 'surprising' statement issued by Farrell, Sexton and Read

World Rugby have gone on the defensive following comments made by the International Rugby Players (IRP) body regarding the new format the proposed ‘World League’.

News broke last night of further details of the World League and how it will be run. The IRP said: “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 on Tuesday night 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, largely to do with player welfare.

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Now World Rugby have hit back at the players:

“World Rugby recognises and values the importance of player considerations and input into the annual international competition discussions. However, the manner the International Rugby Players (IRP) organisation has expressed these is surprising given regular engagement throughout this ongoing process. World Rugby’s commitment to player welfare matters is unwavering and we will continue to engage and give full consideration to the welfare of players within the ongoing discussions.

“It is inappropriate to comment on specifics whilst wider stakeholder consultation, including with IRP, is ongoing. However, it is important to note that some assumptions made in the statement regarding the proposed competition structure are inaccurate and that important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept.

“Consumer research confirms a structured annual competition would make fans and new audiences more likely to watch, attend and engage with international rugby, exposing the sport to new fans worldwide.

“There is also no doubt that a structured annual international competition would deliver significantly greater long-term broadcast revenue for reinvestment in the global game. This project has at its heart long-term growth and stability, not short-term wins, and that includes greater opportunity for players.

“As instructed by our Executive Committee and the Unions, we remain committed to a process of constructive dialogue with all stakeholders, including the IRP, to deliver a model that ensures the best-possible competition and commercial outcomes for all and a truly exciting and meaningful annual international competition structure that is great for players, clubs, fans and unions.”

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World Rugby hits back at 'surprising' statement issued by Farrell, Sexton and Read