World Rugby plans harmful to player welfare - Farrell & Sexton

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Owen Farrell and his England team could face more competitive matches each year if World Rugby plans are approvedWorld Rugby's proposals to revamp the game are harmful to player welfare, say some of the world's leading players.The sport's international governing body reportedly wants to introduce a 12-team World League starting in 2020.The International Rugby Players (IRP) group has discussed the plans, which its president, Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton, described as "out of touch".
World Rugby said its "commitment to player welfare matters is unwavering".England captain Owen Farrell said: "This proposal shows no signs of improving an already difficult situation."Players are definitely open to discussing a new global season but what we develop has to work with the club game in order to reduce conflict, deal with player release issues and make sure their welfare is looked after."The proposal presented to us at the moment doesn't seem to have considered this properly."World Rugby said the players' opposition was "surprising" as the two parties were still in talks, and that the IRP had made "some assumptions" about the proposed calendar revamp which "are inaccurate"."Important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept," it added.
What are World Rugby's plans[/img]
On Thursday, it was reported in New Zealand[/i] that a 12-team World League would be launched from 2020 featuring England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, the United States and Japan.The US and 2020 World Cup hosts Japan would also be invited to join New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina in the Rugby Championship.Under the World League format, teams would play each other once a year, with semi-finals and a final to be held in the northern hemisphere in December.The NZ Herald said the format received "universal support" and that an unnamed broadcaster had tabled a proposal for the television rights, worth up to £7m for each country.The World League would not be held during World Cup years and would not feature promotion or relegation, ending the hopes of emerging European sides like Georgia, Russia and Romania as well as the Pacific Island nations of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga of getting more regular competition against Tier One nations.However, in its statement responding to the IRP concerns, World Rugby said it was "inappropriate to comment on specifics whilst wider stakeholder consultation, including with IRP, is ongoing".
What do the players say?
The IRP council of almost 40 players, including nine of the world's top team international captains, discussed the proposals via conference call on Tuesday.Current World Rugby player of the year Sexton said: "While players gave this idea a cautious welcome when we met at the end of last year, it now seems like a commercial deal on the future of the game is being negotiated at a rapid pace with little consideration given to the important points we raised with World Rugby in November."The issue of player load has never been so topical. However, it needs to be properly understood."To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level Test matches in consecutive weeks in November is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings."Samoa captain Chris Vui said: "For countries in this bracket and for Pacific Islanders in particular, our biggest issue has always been the 'club versus country' factor."We feel that a 12-year deal is not workable, particularly when it presents no hope of advancement during that period."This will have the dangerous knock-on effect of luring senior players away from their countries and more towards the clubs, which is the exact opposite of what we're all trying to achieve."International Rugby Players chief executive Omar Hassanein said World Rugby had been made aware of the views of players on several occasions."World Rugby are failing to respect the players views and genuinely engage on the issues," he said."It will be interesting to see their approach in the coming weeks knowing the current proposal does not have the players support."Georgia coach Milton Haig told BBC Sport they had received no encouragement or assurances over their future in the proposed calendar."I know our president hasn't been involved in those talks. You would hope when they look at this expansion, it is for the good of all and not a certain few."
BBC rugby union correspondent Chris JonesWith many leading rugby nations struggling financially, the proposed World League is designed to make more money for the international game.However, some of the world's most high-profile players have slammed the concept, which would result in more international matches rather than fewer.This dilemma between making money and player welfare is at the heart of professional rugby and driving a wedge between players and administrators. On top of this, latest proposals appear to have frozen out the Pacific Islands and Georgia, which would be an indictment on World Rugby's ambition to grow the game. The World League will likely create as many problems as it solves.
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