The RPA saw the publication of the RFU and PRL joint statement yesterday afternoon relating to Wasps’ anticipated administration and ongoing considerations for the future of the men’s elite game in England.
We agree that there is a need for fundamental change. There was a reference of the need to “provide stronger foundations for the game” by consulting with all stakeholders. It is clear to us that the central stakeholder in these considerations must be the players. They are the driving force behind the game. They are the role models and connection to the game’s brilliant and committed supporters. What makes a club are its players, staff and supporters.
Without players being formally recognised partners in defining the future of English rugby, it is difficult to envisage the game moving forward in the way it needs to, be that through central governance, player welfare, contracts and rights, or financial sustainability. In this moment we are also setting a way forward which, if well-chosen, can positively inform and influence the exciting growth of the women’s game, which is at a pivotal time in its history.
We have been working relentlessly at a collective and individual level for our Worcester and Wasps players in recent times, and will continue to do so for all of our members. Just this morning we were on a call with Wasps players to advise them on their contractual position and our ongoing support. This was attended by RFU and PRL. Our forums have consistently been open to these stakeholders, so that they can truly understand player concerns and perspectives.
The meeting was the perfect example of why player voice needs to be hardwired into future decisions about the game. The players were informed, insightful, and passionate about not only their own circumstances, but those of all across rugby.
Now is the time for a new way forward. We remain optimistic about the future of this brilliant game in England. However, reaching a brighter future requires true collaboration, with a seat for all at the table, including players. It may not be easy but it has never been more necessary.
After the meeting Wasps captain Joe Launchbury said “Players must be at the table in decisions being made about the future of the game.”
Worcester’s recent club captain Ted Hill spoke of his experience “The past couple of months with Worcester were some of the most stressful times I personally and us as a team have had throughout all our careers. Lack of communication from governing bodies throughout was very disappointing. Looking forward now players need to be not only considered but involved in the decision making as a minimum standard.”
Finally, RPA Chair Ethan Waller said “The players and RPA Players’ Board are willing and ready to be positive partners in defining the future of the English game. If the goal is to truly provide stronger foundations, player voice has never been more essential. We must ensure these situations never happen again.”