On Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th November, the International Rugby Players’ Association (“IRPA”) including international player representatives from around the world and World Rugby took part in the second annual Rugby Athletes Commission (“RAC”) held in London.
This forum was jointly created by IRPA and World Rugby with the purpose of addressing issues of importance currently facing players and the game.
The player representatives were made up of both male and female players from the Fifteens and Sevens game. They were Victor Vito (NZ), Kosei Ono (JAP), Rachael Burford (ENG), Charlie Hayter (ENG), John Moonlight (CAN), Sophie Spence (IRE) and Akapusi Qera (FIJ).
During two days of highly constructive discussion, the following actions were agreed between IRPA and World Rugby:
• Joint commitment to developing a revised memorandum of understanding between World Rugby and IRPA to provide a stronger blueprint of collaboration on international issues affecting players and the game as rugby continues to enjoy unprecedented growth on all fronts
• Joint commitment to collaborate on strengthening the regulatory framework that governs agent activity in the game and in developing initiatives that support and educate players in respect of agents and contractual agreements
• Joint commitment to consult and collaborate on matters regarding the expansion and development of the women’s game
• Joint commitment to consult on the development of best-practice guidelines for application within high performance rugby environments that will include guidelines around a player’s rugby development plan; player career, education, financial and personal development and support; mental health and wellness education and support; and player education and awareness programs covering key integrity related topics such as anti-doping, wagering and corruption, concussion management and social media
• Joint commitment to involve the world’s top players in supporting World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby mass-participation programme, which has successfully attracted a million children to the sport worldwide in 2015
• Commitment to continued player involvement through IRPA in relation to law review and medical working groups amongst other key player welfare topics
RAC Chair and Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey said,
“The Rugby Athletes’ Commission plays an important role in ensuring that player opinions are prominent within World Rugby’s decision-making processes and we enjoyed two highly productive and constructive days considering the major topics of mutual interest.
Players are at the very heart of our sport and this body has already played a significant role in advising and informing the Rugby Committee on matters relating to the playing of the game. The work of this group will ensure that, as a sport, we can look to an exciting future of growth and prosperity with players at the centre of the journey.”
Current All Black and Rugby World Cup winner Victor Vito said,
“There is no doubt this was a step up on last year’s successful inaugural RAC. Both IRPA and World Rugby now have several tangible initiatives that we will be progressing together over the coming months. Gathering together like-minded rugby athletes from around the rugby world to discuss issues that affect them directly both on and off the pitch can only further enhance and protect the game we love.”
England Sevens player Rachael Burford added;
“The players are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for the sport as we look forward to an Olympic year and beyond to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 and Rugby World Cup 2019. To have a formalised relationship and platform in which to discuss and resolve issues with World Rugby is hugely important. During the two days we were able to agree a number of tangible outcomes in relation to issues that affect players and the game which makes the forum itself well worthwhile.”
IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol said:
“As the worldwide representative body of professional players IRPA ensures the players have the ability to work with World Rugby to address international issues of importance to them and the game. This forum, and the bonus of having international professional player representatives take time out from their schedules and attend in person, provides a crucial platform to achieving this.
As expected the player representatives fully engaged in the topics with an impressive level of knowledge, competence and professionalism. This means the forum produced a number of great recommendations and initiatives that will now be acted upon between IRPA and World Rugby.”
For more information on the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) please click here: http://irpa-rugby.com/