As we are now beyond the half way mark of the season and the RBS 6 Nations, this column gives me an opportunity to reflect on a very busy 5 months for the RPA and comment on the progress we have made across a number of welfare and Player Development plans, as well as update on some exciting forthcoming projects.
On the Player Development front there have been significant wins across all 14 clubs that the RPA currently looks after (The 12 Aviva Premiership Clubs, Newcastle Falcons as last season’s relegated club and more recently the England 7’s Squad). The increase in engagement from the players has been significant with all 7 of our Player Development Managers working all the way down from Newcastle to Exeter. We have held 5 successful Regional Networking evenings at Bath, Exeter, Manchester, Cheltenham and London (for the England 7’s players), with Leicester and our main Networking evening up at Aviva’s fantastic London office being held in early April. These well organised gatherings give our members the opportunity to meet with RPA Business Partners, RPA Business Club members and explore more about life outside rugby. We will be rolling out these events throughout the coming year, so hope very much to get continued support for the players who are looking to develop their networks outside of rugby.
As we approach a new round of funding negotiations with our Industry Partners, Premiership Rugby and the RFU, who have invested significant amounts of money into a wide range of player welfare projects over the years, we are convinced that by investing more into Player Development and welfare we will give our members the best possible opportunity to optimise their careers and make them better people and better players. This cause is highlighted even further when noting the increased number of players who are being forced to retire from the game prematurely due to injury.
A personal highlight has been the conclusion of a new 4 year funding deal with the RFU for Team England through to 2016. The new deal is working well and the team continue to go from strength to strength. It goes without saying that we wish them all the very best of luck this weekend for ‘Le Crunch’ against France. Games like these take on an even greater significance in a year when the British and Irish Lions will tour Australia and we are currently working with our counterparts from Ireland and Wales to negotiate the players contracts for this summer, which promises to be the most lucrative Lions tour in the history of the game.
The start of the 6 Nations also saw the launch of an exciting new venture for the RPA and Digital Media Room in launching ‘15’. This new online magazine will give every rugby fan a fantastic behind the scenes insight into the professional game and gets up close and personal to the players. The app is available to download from iTunes and has already been very well received.
As you can see, there has been plenty going on and I haven’t even had time to mention Allianz Park (the future of rugby by the way), the fantastic great British Bake Off in aid of Restart and Comic Relief as well as many exciting commercial developments in the pipeline that will help us deliver enhanced services for our players and the game. More on that next month..
In the meantime enjoy the final few weeks of the RBS 6 Nations and keep supporting the players