Players want say on Nations Champs

The International Rugby Players council has reinforced its stance that player views must be fundamental to any future competition proposals by World Rugby.

It follows a conference-call meeting of the Players Council on Tuesday night, which took place two weeks after the group highlighted serious player welfare and integrity concerns around World Rugby’s proposed global competition structure.

The council is now calling on the governing body and its member unions to enter meaningful negotiations how best to work together in future, citing that decisions are too often reached without any opportunity for players to positively influence the outcome.

Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers says World Rugby’s engagement with players needs to change.

‘The players feel that the existing understanding between World Rugby and the players should evolve from a loose commitment to consult, to a requirement to reach agreement on certain key issues,’ De Villiers said.

‘The feeling on the call was that it is no longer appropriate for World Rugby and the unions to determine tournament structures, logistics and tournament terms of participation without getting to an agreed outcome with players.’

Australian member and Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said players feel they are currently not consulted enough over changes to the Test window.

‘We want to be part of key decisions in the game, however, at the moment we don’t have a proper seat at the table to exert any influence,’ Hooper said. ‘Players understand, better than anyone, what happens at the coalface and how certain decisions impact both the players and the broader game, so it would be counterproductive to cast the player view aside.

‘Moving forward, we want to ensure that the players have independently appointed representation on the World Rugby executive committee and other key World Rugby decision-making bodies.’

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones echoed both De Villiers’ and Hoopers’ views.

‘We want to ensure that there will be no repeat of the current situation and that the frustrations over the lack of player consultation are addressed,’ Jones said.

‘It’s in the interest of our game that World Rugby and the unions convene with the playing population so that proper solutions can be agreed. Players having a genuine and greater say can’t be undervalued.’

The IPRC re-affirmed its commitment to the global meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest version of the World Rugby proposal.

Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix