Rugby World - - PLAYER SURVEY -

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

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