Here is their statement:
The world’s top players have warned of serious “player welfare and integrity concerns” around World Rugby’s proposed competition structure for the global game.
While senior players have consistently voiced their support for the concept, ongoing concerns exist around the detail of the competition format that has been taken to market in recent months.
The International Rugby Players Council of almost 40 players spoke via conference call on Tuesday night (GMT) to discuss the potential 12-year deal, with nine of the world’s top ten international team captains dialing in.
Senior players from around the globe were united in their concern about the proposed format, in relation to:
- Player load challenges from multiple top-level test matches in different countries and time-zones in consecutive weeks
- Increased long-haul travel in short time frames
- A lack of real opportunities for Tier Two nations to progress
- Increased conflicts between country and club demands and Regulation 9 release periods
- Potential impact on Rugby World Cup and Lions tours
- The long-term quality and integrity of the international game
- It’s believed that World Rugby bosses are seeking to ratify the deal in the coming weeks, which has raised concerns among the Player Council.
International Rugby Players President Jonathan Sexton said:
“While players gave this idea a cautious welcome when we met at the end of last year, it now seems like a commercial deal on the future of the game is being negotiated at a rapid pace with little consideration given to the important points we raised with World Rugby in November.”
Embed from Getty Images
“The issue of player load has never been so topical, however needs to be properly understood. To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level test matches in consecutive weeks in November, is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings”
Player Council member Kieran Read said:
“After listening to the issues raised by many of the players, we need to be very careful that we balance the commercial needs of the game, with the player welfare needs and ensure the quality and integrity of matches
“Fans want to see meaningful games; they don’t want to see fatigued players playing a reduced quality of rugby as part of a money-driven, weakened competition that doesn’t work for the players or clubs.”
“With new technologies, new broadcast deals and new money coming into the sport, this is a crucial moment for rugby and one that many players are generally excited about. However, we have to make sure that the integrity of the game and welfare of the players is protected.”Embed from Getty Images
England captain Owen Farrell added:
“Players are definitely open to discussing a new global season, but what we develop has to work with the club game in order to reduce conflict, deal with player release issues and make sure their welfare is looked after.
“The proposal presented to us at the moment doesn’t seem to have considered this properly and shows no signs of improving this already difficult situation.”
The Players Council understands that promotion and relegation will not form part of the new proposal, preventing Tier Two and emerging nations from accessing top level competitive matches and creating a ceiling on their aspirations to advance and improve.
Samoa captain Chris Vui said:
“For countries in this bracket and for Pacific Islanders in particular, our biggest issue has always been the ‘club versus country’ factor. We feel that that a 12-year deal is not workable, particularly when it presents no hope of advancement during that period. This will have the dangerous knock-on effect of luring senior players away from their countries and more towards the clubs, which is the exact opposite of what we’re all trying to achieve”.
International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein confirmed that these views have been conveyed to World Rugby on several occasions.
“World Rugby are failing to respect the players views and genuinely engage on the issues. It will be interesting to see their approach in the coming weeks knowing the current proposal does not have the players support”.
World Rugby have since responded:
““It is inappropriate to comment on specifics whilst wider stakeholder consultation, including with IRP, is ongoing. However, it is important to note that some assumptions made in the statement regarding the proposed competition structure are inaccurate and that important matters such as playing load and emerging nation opportunities are at the heart of constructive dialogue on the overall concept.
“Consumer research confirms a structured annual competition would make fans and new audiences more likely to watch, attend and engage with international rugby, exposing the sport to new fans worldwide.
“There is also no doubt that a structured annual international competition would deliver significantly greater long-term broadcast revenue for reinvestment in the global game. This project has at its heart long-term growth and stability, not short-term wins, and that includes greater opportunity for players.
“As instructed by our Executive Committee and the Unions, we remain committed to a process of constructive dialogue with all stakeholders, including the IRP, to deliver a model that ensures the best-possible competition and commercial outcomes for all and a truly exciting and meaningful annual international competition structure that is great for players, clubs, fans and unions.”
It will be interesting to see how it all progresses. You can read our simple guide of the proposal here.
Australian Match Officials Appointed to 2022 Six Nations Fixtures
The Guinness Six Nations 2022 kicks off on February 5th, and rugby fans couldn’t be any happier. The Championship never disappoints and is always packed with drama as France, England, Wales, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland go head to head. Some fans even take the enthusiasm a step higher and bet on these games. We highly recommend you read on BettingTop10 site how to find the best betting site for you. This way you will get all the information you need to make the safest bets.
When World Rugby announced the 13 referees who will be the match officials for this 15-match Championship, fans received the announcement with much praise. The match officials represent eight rugby unions, and Rugby Australia will have four officials raising their flag high. For Australian Rugby, the four officials will be making history as they take charge of matches on the February 12th weekend.
Andy Marinos, Rugby Australia’s Chief Executive, had a congratulatory message for his four officials. Marinos said, “It’s an incredible achievement for all four Australians who will be representing us during the Six Nations. I’d like to congratulate them on behalf of Rugby Australia.
“To have Nic, Angus and Damon take control of three individual games on the same weekend is something we’ve never had before in a team of Australian match officials during the Six Nations, and I know they’ll put their best foot forward.”
Angus Gardner is the first official and isn’t new to the Six Nations tournament, as he made his debut back in 2019. For the 2022 Six Nations fixtures, he’ll start as the 2nd assistant referee in the Ireland vs Wales match at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on February 5th. However, on February 12th, Gardner will be the main referee in the game between France and Ireland at the Stade de France stadium in Paris.
Nic Berry is another experienced referee who had his first rodeo at the Six Nations in 2019. He will kick off the 2022 tournament on February 5th as the 1st assistant referee in the Scotland vs England match at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Nic will, however, take the reins as the lead official on February 12th as former title winners Wales clash with Scotland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
New to the Six Nations will be Damon Murphy, and his first match will be between France and Italy at the Stade de France stadium in Paris. The game will be on February 6th, and Damon will be the 2nd assistant referee. And just like his countrymates, Damon will be the main referee on February 13th as Italy plays against England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Lastly, Brett Conan joins the Six Nations championship as a Television Match Official (TMO) for the first time and will make his debut on February 6th. He’ll join Nic Berry on February 12th as the TMO when Wales and Scotland battle it out on the pitch.
The selection of the match officials was a significant feat for World Rugby and was noted by the Chairman of the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee, Graham Mourie. He said, “The 2022 Guinness Six Nations represents an important milestone for our match officials on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”
Mourie added, “ Being able to select from the largest pool of match officials since the last Rugby World Cup is exciting and also means that we will be able to optimise preparation on the ground prior to and during the Championship. I would like to extend my congratulations to Nika, Damon and Karl, who will be refereeing their first Six Nations matches, and wish all the best to all the match officials selected for the Championship.”
Farrell Names 37 Player Squad For 2022 Guinness Six Nations
Andy Farrell and the Ireland coaching group have named a 37 player squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship which commences in early February.
The squad will be captained by Johnny Sexton who earned his 100th cap for his country against Japan during the November international window.
Ireland will host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the Championship while also travelling to Paris and London to face France and England respectively.
There are two uncapped players named in the extended squad – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen. Both have trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during the Vodafone Summer Series in July and Hansen during the Autumn Nations Series in November.
Connacht’s Cian Prendergast will join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a Development Player. The former Ireland U20 player has made nine appearances for Connacht this season.
James Lowe has picked up a muscle injury that has ruled him out for a number of weeks.
Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level. The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.
“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past 12 months. The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve.
“It will be an exciting Championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the Autumn.”
Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday 5th February. A week later, the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris. In Round 3, on Sunday 27th February, Ireland host Italy at the Aviva Stadium and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.
In the final round of the Championship, Ireland host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 19th March.
All games will be available on free-to-air television in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ITV (NI) will broadcast all of Ireland’s games, RTE (ROI) will broadcast the games against Wales and England while VIRGIN (ROI) will broadcast the games against France, Italy and Scotland.
IRELAND Guinness Six Nations Squad 2022
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 33 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 27 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 27 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 96 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 92 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 101 caps CAPTAIN
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 6 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 18 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 25 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 22 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 12 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 52 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 112 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 23 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 79 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 2 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 2 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 3 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Scotland name Six Nations Squad
Gregor Townsend has named five uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations including Saracens back-rower Andy Christie and London Irish scrum-half Ben White.
Rory Darge, Ben Vellacott and Kyle Rowe are also rewarded with call-ups ahead of Scotland’s first game of the championship on Saturday 5 February against England.
Andy Christie represented Scotland at youth level, playing for the Under-16s and the 22-year-old has played with Saracens since 2018, becoming a prominent figure for the London side.
Ben White, aged 23, signed for London Irish last year from Leicester Tigers and featured in their victory over Edinburgh Rugby last weekend.
Fellow London Irish player Kyle Rowe is also named in the squad having impressed in the Premiership this season, notably scoring a hat-trick against Saracens and was previously a member of the Scotland 7s and U20s teams.
Darge and Vellacott have been selected due to consistently good performances at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh respectively.
Following his memorable debut against England last year, Bath centre Cameron Redpath has recovered from injury and will once again be in contention ahead of the Six Nations opener.
During the Autumn Nations Cup, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian, Pierre Schoeman, Rufus McLean and Sione Tuipulotu all received their first Scotland caps and are included once again.
he squad will meet up at Oriam on Monday 24 January for a training camp before reconvening the following week ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash.
Fresh from claiming top spot in Scotland’s all-time try scoring list during the Autumn Nations Series Stuart Hogg once again captains his country.
He is joined by fellow British & Irish Lions adding their experience to the squad in Finn Russell, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Chris Harris, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson.
Elsewhere there are call-ups for Edinburgh pair back-row Magnus Bradbury and prop WP Nel who missed out on selection for the Autumn Nations, as did Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray who also returns.
Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson also earns a squad selection having not featured for Scotland in 2021.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “When you look through the squad this is the most competitive I’ve seen it in so many areas and that’s testament to the strength and depth we have.
“We are able to call-up several new players into the squad such as Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White. We have been aware of all of the uncapped players for a while now and recently they have all experienced a breakthrough in terms of their performances at club level.
“A key part of the squad selection was rewarding form and that definitely applies to Ben Vellacott and Rory Darge who have been excellent for their clubs this season.
“We’re delighted to be able to include Cameron Redpath in the squad after missing the last few months with injury. He managed to get a game under his belt prior to the squad selection so we’ll see how he performs for Bath and in our training over the next couple of weeks.
“The Guinness Six Nations is the best competition we have in rugby so to be involved in it is a real privilege, especially starting with our oldest rivals in front of a sold-out home crowd.”
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