TEST RUGBY

Rugby World - - PLAYER SURVEY -

HERE WAS con­tro­versy at the start of Novem­ber be­cause of the num­ber of Tests played out­side the in­ter­na­tional win­dow and the re­sult­ing high-pro­file ab­sences of play­ers not re­leased by their clubs. So it’s in­ter­est­ing that more than half of play­ers think that no Tests should be played out­side the of­fi­cial win­dow.

Sam War­bur­ton would like to see fewer Tests, but re­alises there needs to be a so­lu­tion to the fi­nan­cial short­fall unions would in­cur by cut­ting matches. “I’d like to see a rul­ing that there’s no more than ten In­ter­na­tion­als a sea­son,” he said. “Play­ers’ salaries are go­ing up and up and up, but bod­ies can’t cope with the de­mands of sus­tain­ing those salaries.”

Test starters are viewed as the group at most risk of in­jury, 55% cit­ing them, fol­lowed by fringe in­ter­na­tion­als (30%).

As for el­i­gi­bil­ity – a top­i­cal is­sue now play­ers are able to switch al­le­giance via the Olympic sevens route – 45% be­lieve play­ers should be al­lowed to rep­re­sent only one coun­try at in­ter­na­tional level.

Yet 39% be­lieve a player should be able to rep­re­sent a dif­fer­ent coun­try if they have a pass­port for that coun­try and have had a three-year stand-down pe­riod since they last played for the other coun­try. The re­main­ing 16% think it’s okay to switch pro­vid­ing the player is switch­ing to a lower-tier coun­try. Clearly play­ers are di­vided over that is­sue.

THow­ever, the most sig­nif­i­cant – and shock­ing – find­ing in the sur­vey is that 23% of play­ers have felt pres­sured not to play for their coun­tries by their clubs. Of those play­ers, 39% ad­mit to suc­cumb­ing to that pres­sure and not rep­re­sent­ing their coun­tries.

That means nearly one in ten (9%) play­ers, pre­dom­i­nantly from Tier Two na­tions, have been com­pelled to choose club over coun­try. That num­ber should be zero; no one should feel they have to turn down in­ter­na­tional hon­ours be­cause of pres­sure from their club.

“The in­ter­na­tional game drives rugby,” says Omar Has­sanein. “There­fore it is im­per­a­tive that play­ers, no mat­ter where

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