17/12/2019 – World Rugby Communications – World Rugby and players strengthen partnership

Sixth meeting of the Rugby Athletes’ Commission takes place in Cape Town
• Athlete representatives discuss key issues facing players
• Actions agreed for 2020 building on new and existing projects

Ensuring the voice of the players continues to be at the heart of rugby’s global decision-making processes as rugby accelerates into a decade of growth and prosperity was the key theme of a productive and positive Rugby Athlete’s Commission (RAC) meeting in Cape Town today.

A key partnership between World Rugby and International Rugby Players (IRP) and chaired by Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey, the meeting brought together leading current and former men’s and women’s sevens and 15s players who represent IRP and members of World Rugby’s executive, including Chief Executive Brett Gosper, to discuss:

• Latest game developments on and off the field, including key player welfare and injury research and law trials
• Ongoing RAC collaboration projects including agent registration, player personal development programmes (which benefit and protect the player) and the launched Mindset and Player Load programmes, which are already benefiting players around the world
• Preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
• Growth opportunities for the women’s game and emerging rugby nations
• World Rugby’s strategic plan development and future collaborations

The meeting concluded with a clear set of agreed actions that will propel player-centric issues to the fore heading into a new decade:

• Continued collaboration on sevens tournament formats, including establishment of a multi-stakeholder working group
• Support for further player welfare initiatives including concussion education
• Commitment to develop and support player development and mental health support
• Further collaboration regarding the women’s game including competition structures and commercial growth
• Promotion of minimum standards relating to player contracts
• Encourage unions to develop organised player bodies where they do not exist
• Discussion on key principles around future global calendar planning

Jeffrey said: "The Rugby Athletes’ Commission plays a key role in ensuring that players have a face-to-face opportunity to engage with World Rugby and IRP and that their views help inform the consultation and decision-making processes. The progress made in 2018, building on the outcomes of previous meetings demonstrates the benefits of collaboration in achieving shared objectives for the betterment of athletes and the game."

"The Rugby Athletes’ Commission has an important part to play in athlete engagement and is strengthened by further athlete involvement in other areas – including the Rugby Committee, medical, law and professional game committees and working groups – all of which contribute in a significant and meaningful way on matters relating to the playing of the game."

International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein added: "Our players want to make sure they have a strong and impactful voice in the game and play their full role in the future growth and success of the sport.

"The Rugby Athletes’ Commission is a key forum in that mission and an opportunity for us to express our views, discuss areas of collaboration and tackle challenges and opportunities in a spirit of partnership.

Attendees: John Jeffrey (World Rugby Council Member, RAC Chairman), Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO), Omar Hassanein (IRP CEO), Rachael Burford (IRP, England), Sene Naoupu (IRP, Ireland), Charlie Hayter (IRP, England), Rory Best (IRP, Ireland), Blaine Scully (IRP, USA), Harry Jones (IRP, Canada), Oupa Mohoje (IRP, South Africa), Humphrey Kayange (IRP, Kenya), Jacques Nienaber (Coach, South Africa), Jean de Villiers (IRP, South Africa), Conrad Smith (IRP), David Quinlan (IRP), Emma Terho (IOC Athletes’ Commission (by phone)), David Carrigy (World Rugby), Mark Egan (World Rugby), Mark Harrington (World Rugby), Ross Tucker (Consultant, World Rugby), Jaime McKeown (World Rugby).