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Rugby powers unite: Players demand more say on global plans

Newshub logoNewshub 6 days ago Brad Lewis, Ross Karl
Michael Hooper standing in front of a building: Kieran Read and Michael Hooper. © Image: Getty; Video: Newshub. Kieran Read and Michael Hooper.

We want more say.

That's the overriding message international players have sent to World Rugby following a Players Council meeting on Wednesday.

The global player's body has reinforced its position that player views must be fundamental to any future proposals such as the World League.

Australian captain Michael Hooper said in a statement on Thursday that their voice needs to be heard as the direction of international rugby's future approaches a potential boiling point.

"We want to be part of key decisions in the game - however at the moment, we don't have a proper seat at the table to exert any influence," he said.

"Players understand, better than anyone, what happens at the coal face and how certain decisions impact both the players and the broader game - so it would be counterproductive to cast the player view aside.

"Moving forward we want to ensure that the players have independently appointed representation on the World Rugby Executive Committee and other key World Rugby decision-making bodies."

There has been global condemnation of World Rugby's leaked proposal that effectively ignored the Pacific Islands, player welfare and club rugby commitments, particularly in Europe and Japan.

Some European heavyweight clubs last week hit out at the World League, saying it wouldn't allow players to be released.

And while the Players Council is committed to exploring further options at Thursday's World Rugby meeting, it's clear it will flex its powerful muscles if its hand is forced.

"This is a pivotal moment for everyone in our sport," said former Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll. 

"The players have made their views clear on the proposed global competition - but at the same time, they want to work with World Rugby, unions, provinces and clubs to genuinely explore what may be possible."

Current Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has also spoken on the overwhelming frustration the players felt when the World League proposal hit the press two weeks ago.

Jones said player consultation must be non-negotiable.

"We want to ensure that there will be no repeat of the current situation and that the frustrations over the lack of player consultation are addressed," he explained.

"It's in the interest of our game that World Rugby and the unions convene with the playing population so that proper solutions can be agreed.

"Players having a genuine and greater say can't be undervalued."

The group also reiterated that while the Men's XV game is in focus at the moment, meaningful representation of players needs to extend to all discussions across men's, women's, XVs and Sevens.

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