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World Rugby promises fans 'largest-ever consultation on the sport'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Bill Beaumont believes rugby has the ability to become the world’s most progressive sport regarding player welfare. Celebrating 200 years of rugby this year, the World Rugby chairman’s latest annual message on the sport is that rugby is continuing to evolve and that there are numerous reasons for fans to be optimistic about the future of the sport.

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“Underpinning everything is an unwavering focus on player welfare,” he explained. “Actioning our six-point plan, we set out to make 2022 a year of focus on welfare in rugby and I’m proud of what we have achieved together. But we must not and will not stand still.

“This year will bring independent and peer-reviewed research from our world-leading smart mouthguard studies. This data will provide insight into the game like never before and will form the basis for further advances in welfare-supporting law, protocols and guidelines.

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“There will be developments, too, related to the other key pillars of our welfare plan, including our commitment to education and support for former players. All of this will help to secure rugby’s place as the most progressive sport on player welfare.”

Earlier in his address, Beaumont commented: “In a rapidly changing post-pandemic world, like all sports rugby must continue to evolve.

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“Amidst accelerating demand for entertainment as well as growing concern around social and environmental issues, it is important rugby keeps moving forwards across everything from player welfare and fan engagement to financial and environmental sustainability if it is to become more attractive, more relevant and more accessible to more people and become a truly global sport.”

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The World Rugby chairman added that fans will be invited to have their say on the sport’s evolution. “We value your opinion. World Rugby is not simply an organisation or sports federation, it is a movement and we want to advance the sport with your voice central to everything we do.

“To that end, we will be launching the largest-ever consultation on the sport in the coming weeks, to build on the work of the recent shape of the game conference to build a better, stronger and more attractive sport together. You will be invited to have your say.”

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