TWENTY Wasps players have joined their Worcester counterparts in signing up to the 'Free Agent' list that has proved so successful in helping out-of work rugby pros find new employment.
As things stand, roughly two-thirds (24) of the Worcester squad thrown out of work after the club went into administration have landed new deals elsewhere after their nan1es and other essential employment information were shared with Pren1iership heads of recruitment.
The idea first came up for discussion at a summer meeting between the Rugby Players' Association (RPA) Head of Players Affairs Christian Day and Ben Broster, his opposite number from the French players' union, Provale.
At that stage, around 80 Premiership players had fallen out of contract, primarily as victims of the salary cap cut, but with plenty of Worcester and Wasps players now on the market, too, the situation has got a lot worse.
"It has been more successful than I originally thought. Provale launched it maybe two years ago and they saw some real success in it," said Day, the former Premiership lock.
"I had three recruiters ring me between the list coming back out yesterday (Thursday) to this morning so it shows they are reading it. But I'm not quite a super-agent yet!
"It is pretty labour intensive," he said. "When we did it initially with Worcester, we phoned every player and asked if they wanted to be on it, so we got good numbers.
"For the Wasps players we'd built an automated system at that point where we sent them all a link, and of that of the entire squad only six players clicked on the link and signed up. So yesterday I rang all the players up and, all of a sudden, we had 20 signed. It shows why direct engagement is important.
"I think there will be lots of movement but I still think there will be a fair number of players stuck on this list for a good period of time."
Another important step has been the decision by the RFU/PRL to waive the 'movement compensation fee' that currently applies to academy players aged 18-21 when they leave the club that has developed them for another.
"It was absolutely the right thing to do because for those Wasps and Worcester academy players now that there are no prospects, currently of hem playing professional rugby for Wasps and worcester so it is a bit unfair if you make them less employable," said Day.
RPA membership currently stands at just over 660 with more to join up once England's women return from the World Cup. And Day confirmed those Wasps and Worcester players affected by their club's administration who remain out of pro rugby will continue to be supported.
"We will be supporting everyone this season. If they are no longer a professional rugby player they still would be an alumni member and we are drastically looking to increase our provision in that area. We've just relaunched the retired player network."
CREDIT: The Rugby Paper 23rd October