International Rugby Players notes the decision of World Rugby Council to adopt a new men’s and women’s global calendar, incorporating for the first time at elite level, a set of international player welfare guidelines.
The global players’ association has been a key stakeholder in negotiations on a new international calendar for the past four years, stressing the need for a meaningful competition that grows the game and promotes player rest and recovery.
Within the package, International Rugby Players welcomes particular advancements, including alignment of regional and global windows for the women’s game, as well as offering more certainty around release periods in the mens game.
Equally, the introduction of a guaranteed fixture list for emerging nations in the men’s game allows for performance opportunities and commercial sustainability. New player load guidelines, driven by International Rugby Players, will also come into effect as part of the new regulations.
However, the global players’ body believes the model is not perfect and that further improvement needs to be made in key areas to ensure the games’ two primary objectives – growing the game via emerging nations and raising player welfare standards – are met.
Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said: “We must recognise that the newly proposed model is better than the status quo and represents progress in the game. Having said this, we feel that more detail needs to be provided in relation to the increased opportunities for teams ranked 13 to 24, to pitch themselves against Tier 1 opposition.”
Head of Player Welfare and High Performance, Conrad Smith said: “To have reached a global agreement on player welfare and load management standards is an important development for the game.
“While there are still some details to be worked through, minimum rest periods and restrictions around the number of matches played in season will be beneficial to players as a means of combatting a number of player welfare challenges in the game.
“There is a significant amount of research going into player welfare and these guidelines and the creation of a Player Welfare Project Group allow the game to react to any findings immediately, ensuring the guidelines adapt and evolve with science,” he added.
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