The Rugby Players Association (RPA) has noted the comments made in today’s Guardian and recognises many of the welfare concerns raised within the article. We feel compelled to respond to the points made in order to clear up any misunderstanding.
We have been lobbying the Professional Game Board (PGB) made up of representatives of the RFU, Premiership Rugby, Championship Clubs and the RPA for the last 10 years requesting minimum welfare provisions for the players in the Championship on the following areas: Standard Contract, minimum Medical and Personal Accident Insurance. Despite raising this at the meetings and sending over proposals to support the players in these areas as well as proposing an affordable Personal Development Programme for the players in the Championship, we have received no support, be it financial or otherwise to expand our service into the Championship.
Whilst we recognise the financial constraints and challenges of the Championship clubs, The RPA does not have the resources available to extend our support to the Championship members. We have historically supported some Championship players and clubs but we remain extremely frustrated that there is no additional revenue available to provide basic securities to the players in the second tier of English rugby.
The RPA is funded as follows: we receive 65% of our income via project specific grants from the RFU and PRL, and those monies (totalling £1.3m in 2016) are invested directly into agreed welfare, insurance and Personal Development programmes for the 12 clubs in the Premiership, the relegated club in the Championship and the Men’s and Women’s 7’s and 15’s programmes. The remainder of our revenue is generated through our own commercial partners and successful events programme as well as our membership subscriptions, and all of this money is reinvested into the projects and infrastructure that befits our standing as a not for profit organisation.
The current funding model is based solely on servicing the members needs in those teams and so any dilution of those services impacts significantly on the 1000 strong membership made up of over 650 current players and over 350+ Alumni members. Whilst we have done some work on creating an enhanced Standard form contract in the Championship, which some of the clubs have indeed adopted, the overall response to the introduction of a Standard Contract has been very negative and leaves the players in a very precarious position. Our ambition to represent the Championship players has not changed since our inception, but we need the Championship Stakeholders, namely the clubs and the RFU to meaningfully engage and show their commitment to the development of a professional English second-tier competition by providing the necessary ring fenced funding and welfare measures to support their employees, be that part time or full time.
For more information on The Rugby Players’ Association please contact Group CEO Damian Hopley on 020 3053 6670.