HE FIVE-FIGURE sum England players receive for playing a Test is widely reported while Pacific Islanders might get a few hundred pounds a week when in international camp. So while 62% of players said their income significantly or slightly increases by playing Test rugby, 20% said their pay decreases by playing for their national team.
Drilling down into the results determines, unsurprisingly, that nearly all those players who lose money representing their country are from Tier Two nations. Clubs have been known to dock wages, reduce contract offers or introduce clauses around game time
“There needs to be a little less expectation and entitlement from some youngsters. It’ll happen if you graft”
Twhile players may have to pay their own expenses, so if they head off on Test duty their pay packet suffers. Tied into this is the fact so many Tier Two players have felt pressured by their clubs not to pursue international honours.
Former Tonga player Hale T-Pole told RugbyWorld earlier this year: “We don’t want clubs to hold players back from the World Cup. We’re already hearing of some players being told, ‘We’ll give you an extra £20,000 in your contract but you have to stay here’.” Of players say their pay decreases by playing for
their national team
Until there is a better distribution of wealth in the international game, such as a share of ticket sales for Tier Two nations when they play at Tier One venues, it is unlikely this will change. So some players will face the tough choice of choosing whether to represent their country on the biggest stage or make more money for their family and their future by playing for their clubs.
Joe Marler also brings up an interesting point about how the amount of money in the game is affecting younger players, with big offers on the table early on in their careers.
“There’s a lot of money in the game and there are a lot of younger guys expecting everything,” says the Quins front-rower. “Some want everything now and if they don’t get it they’ll go somewhere else because someone else will pay them. Sometimes kids come out of school thinking they are the finished article there and then.
“I don’t want to stop people being themselves, but there needs to be a little less expectation and entitlement. It will happen if you graft, work hard and keep going for it.” A LOT of the talking points from this survey intertwine but what is most important is that the game’s governing bodies take on board what the players have to say. Without the players, there would be no game and it is absolutely critical that their voice is heard in any discussions and decisions surrounding the future of the sport. And the onus is on the players as well as the power-brokers to ensure this happens.
While Joe Marler is not putting himself forward for a role with the RPA or similar, he says players have to speak up while decisions are being made, rather than criticise them when they’re announced.
“It’s easy for players like myself,
Billy Vunipola and Ben Youngs to come out and say we’ll go on strike if we don’t get what we want, but we’ve done that without knowing the crux of it,” he says. “It’s easier to pick holes in something than come up with ideas and solutions.
“We maybe don’t appreciate that we have a huge influence on the game as a whole, a responsibility to the game not just to be the best players we can be but to actively have a voice to help out guys coming through.
“It’s hard because I know when
I was an England player, the RPA asked our opinion and my reaction was, ‘Okay, I’m concentrating on playing this weekend’. We have to get on board quicker. We can’t wait until a decision is made and say we’re not happy with it because it’s too late; we need to be involved and have an influence while it’s happening.”
It seems fitting to give the final word to International Rugby Players chief executive Omar Hassanein: “This survey, the largest gathering of data from elite players in all major nations, shows the importance our players put on having a strong voice in the game.
“We will be taking this information and working with World Rugby and other authorities to ensure we make progress on the priority issues for our players.”
Crowd pleasersFiji played Scotland at a sold-out BT Murrayfield