Players' union reveals scale of suffering caused by loss of two Premiership rugby clubs

Christian Day spoke to Alex Spink of Daily Mirror about how the RPA are helping Wasps and Worcester players at this time, and what it means for the whole game...

The scale of suffering caused by the sudden loss of two Premiership clubs can today be revealed.

Christian Day, former rugby pro turned head of player affairs at the Rugby Players Association, put it bluntly.

“There’s probably 70 to 75 players who now need to establish a new way for their career,” he said. “Some will be picked up by other clubs but there are plenty of top-quality players for whom the rugby market is just full.

“We want to find them jobs in the sport but soon our focus will switch to trying to find them a job full stop.”

First Worcester went, cutting adrift players and staff, followed this week by Wasps with 167 redundancies.

Wing Josh Bassett became the first player to sign for another club following Wasps' move into administration, joining Harlequins with immediate effect until the end of the season.

Day, who won Premiership and European trophies with Sale and Northampton, has seen the pain close up and describes what has unfolded as a “catastrophe”.

“My job is player-facing and witnessing players and staff go through what they have is very difficult,” he said.

“We’ve been proactive by bringing forward plans to launch a Free Agents list this summer and publishing it immediately.

“I think 24 of about 34 Worcester players on that list got picked up, so there have been some real success stories.

“But for this Wasps group the market now is completely saturated and it’s a much more difficult ask.”

Day gives the example of one player who has signed a contract for next season with another Premiership club but until then is jobless.

“When we spoke there was almost a hopelessness in him, a hint of desperation in his voice," he said. "He told me, ‘I’m looking for part-time work anywhere I can’.

“These guys’ identities are rugby players. It’s not easy to put that down and pick up another job. Rugby is a very specialised environment.”

The fear is that this crisis has yet to bottom out. Rumours abound of three other Premiership clubs teetering on or very close to the brink.

Day says a growing number of senior players, shocked by what’s happening to their friends and the sight of clubs disappearing almost overnight, are “directly voicing to me” that they want to see change.

England hooker Jamie George went public on Monday in urging the sport’s bosses to listen to the players - and Day echoed his call.

“We have to get players’ input on what change is necessary,” he said. “They are the guys that live it, they are the experts.

“Their ideas might change the game for the better, but we’ll never know unless somebody actually listens to them.

“Look at American sports and the likes of LeBron James and Tom Brady. Those guys are visible, they’re speaking out, they’re leaders of their sport.

"Guys like Courtney Lawes, Jamie George and Ellis Genge can absolutely be leaders of ours."

CREDIT: Alex Spink, Daily Mirror