Survey finds 45% of international rugby players have felt pressured into playing when not fit

A survey of international rugby players has revealed that almost half of them have been pressured into playing when not fully fit.

The study was carried out by International Rugby Players, the official representative body for professional rugby players.

It looked at issues including club and country workload, head injury management, standards for emerging nations, player availability and other key topics.

The survey also found that almost a quarter admitted they had been put under pressure by their club not to play for their country. Of that, 40% had succumbed to this pressure.

Many players also highlighted concerns around contact sessions during the season, with one player saying: “Contact at training, whether in club or in the international set-up, needs to be limited. Players need to be protected from under-pressure coaching staff.”

Player Development Manager with Pacific Rugby Players, Joe Rokocoko said: “We know from our work with PRP that some guys have been put under pressure to stay with their clubs instead of playing with their national side”

“The survey results show how bad it can get sometimes. There’s a lot of work we need to do to make sure players are able to play at the pinnacle of the sport, which is for their country, and that the integrity of the game is upheld.”

    Key survey results:

  • 54% think Test Matches should not be played outside the current International windows
  • 45% of players said they have been pressured to play or train when not fully fit
  • 33% missed six matches or more because of injury in the last season
  • Almost half think 21-25 is the optimum number of matches to play per season
  • International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein, said: “What's become evident is that player welfare can’t be just talked about, it needs to be acted upon. As an example, too many players are highlighting player load as a real issue and talking about being overburdened in training or playing too many matches.

    “This survey has highlighted many important areas of work and we will be progressing these with World Rugby and the other governing bodies in 2019 and beyond, including the ongoing work of the Player Load Working Group.”

    All 20 Rugby World Cup 2019 qualified countries, along with four other emerging nations, took part in the survey of more than 350 international players during October and November 2018.

    - Digital Desk

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