Burns says ‘mad’ sched­ule may risk player health

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Gavin Mairs

Fred­die Burns says the re­vised Premiershi­p Rugby sched­ule which will ask clubs to play seven games in 28 days is “com­plete mad­ness” and fears it will ex­pose play­ers to a risk of long-term in­jury prob­lems.

Burns, the for­mer Bath fly-half who is join­ing Ja­panese club side Shokki Shut­tles in Jan­uary, said that play­ers were alarmed by the de­ci­sion to com­plete the sea­son in full, in­clud­ing three mid­week rounds, when the league re­sumes next month.

Burns, whose three-year ten­ure with Bath ended last month, said he was able to speak out as he was leav­ing the Premiershi­p, claim­ing many play­ers were con­cerned at a time when clubs had also cut the size of their squads.

“The play­ers feel like they have been pushed into a cor­ner, first with the pay-cut sit­u­a­tion and now the amount of games,” said Burns. “Given the phys­i­cal­ity and the at­tri­tion of the game now, to ask play­ers to play seven games in 28 days is just com­plete mad­ness.

“The play­ers are trapped at the minute. They can’t re­ally look else­where be­cause there aren’t many op­por­tu­ni­ties in France, and they are not go­ing to say any­thing be­cause clubs will stand them down. It is a re­ally sorry state.

“As a guy who is leav­ing the Premiershi­p, I feel I can speak out a lit­tle bit and shed a bit of light on what the play­ers are feel­ing.”

Burns con­ceded that the mid­week games would pro­vide more op­por­tu­nity for squad ro­ta­tion to give fringe play­ers op­por­tu­ni­ties but in­sisted that the pres­sure for re­sults and rate of at­tri­tion could ex­pose play­ers to greater in­jury risk.

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