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Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 09:22
Genuinely I would like the thoughts not only of Sarries fans, but of other clubs too on this because I have heard Marler's concerns echoed elsewhere and it is obviously part of a much much bigger problem.

This is really all about how much rugby the boys are asked to play, especially when they effectively play for two separate teams, in our case it is mainly Saracens and England, but also Saracens and Wales, Saracens and Scotland, Saracens and South Africa.

The relentless fixture schedule increasingly allows less and less time for vital pre season preparation or for the inevitable 'fix up' operations that nearly all the boys need immediately following the season's end. Never mind the reboot they need in the form of a holiday and a break from rugby with their families. Add into that mix the stupidity of 'rigorous' England training camps, which none of them actually look forward to, and Marler's decision starts to look like common sense, even at the age of 28!

Looking purely at our Saracens nine who disappear to England - only Nick, Ben E, Maro, Jamie and Billy arent married or with young kids - the others have to juggle families and other responsibilities with rugby. The club is very good indeed - one of the very best at supporting the 'whole player' as we know - and if it were just one or two summers without a break, maybe, just maybe, you could cope with that pressure. But it isnt, It doesnt stop. Year after year if you are at the top of your game these days, putting pressure on family life as well as your own physical and emotional wellbeing.

We mustnt also forget those who stay to hold the fort when the international contingent disappear - playing with no rotation and no break -because the squad is so stretched, often carrying injuries that would normally justify resting for a week or two. The coaches have no choice - we have to field a team!

I know what the answer is IMHO - fewer international games. I know world rugby just came up with a plan to regularise those internationals - but it still seems too many to me! It just seems that the balance at the moment is all wrong. It is all in the interests of the RFU and national unions trying to fill their coffers. After all - if a player like Marler retires, they can always just call up someone else. If a player gets injured in training or in a game - they can just replace him too. The clubs cant do that so easily, obviously.

I have a great deal of sympathy with Joe Marler and wish him and his family well. But I do hope the powers that be actually sit up and take note on this. I would also be really interested in what everyone else thinks - especially on these boards where we all support clubs, as well as England (or other international teams!) and so have a wider perspective than those who simply go to Twickenham for a corporate jolly.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Duncan96 (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 10:59
I agree with your solution of less international games but that is because, like the majority of people here I suspect, we are Saracens supporters first and England etc supporters second.

Unfortunately there is another solution which might be more attractive to the majority of fans who mainly follow international rugby. That is the Irish/Cricket way where we wouldn’t see the internationals play in league games very often.

I for one hope that doesn’t happen.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Wayoutwest (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 11:42
Unfortunately as long as the PRL and the RFU are separate entities, each claiming first choice of the players this will continue. The RFU earn too much money to give up access to players for friendlies.

We really need joined up thinking here with the PRL & RFU. The clubs and their fans are not going to like it but the only model I have seen work is the central contracts route that Ireland and NZ follow where the best players are "loaned" back to their clubs for certain
games. Look at the game time Jonny Sexton played last season for Leinster as an example in the Pro14 games.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Waldo (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 12:00
I can't remember where i heard it (one of the rugby pod cast I suspect) put apparently Johnny Sexton only played for Leinster 7 times in the last 2 seasons !

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Innings (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 12:12
This is the problem that has bedevilled cricket for many years. Professional players are over-used, under-supported, and find that life, especially when a much-travelled international player, becomes extremely lonely. There is little time or continuity available for personal development for life after the game.

If anyone doubts the long-term effects of this toxic mix, I suggest you type the words 'professional cricket suicide' into your search engine. Be ready to be surprised.

When the professional game of rugby has the years behind it, we shall see the same among players whom we have supported and admired. Marler has done something very important and the game needs to recognise that he is only unique in that he talks about it.



Innings

Points win matches: tries win hearts and minds.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
03 October, 2018 12:47
The challenge is that the calendar is already so congested. There are 11 internationals a year, 22+2 premiership games and 6+3 European games at the top level. That has to be squeezed into 41 weekends so there is already overlap.

Even if you removed two sides from the premiership, it would only remove some of the current overlap with the internationals.

If you want top players to play ~30 games a year then you either move to the Irish model where players only appear a handful of times in the league, or you have to make some very deep cuts.

Fans would be up in arms with the plan below, but if you want the best players in every game, then there need to be a lot fewer games:

4 games - 5 nations - relegate worst performing team to level below each two years
14+2 games - 8 team league - 14 league games, semi, final
4+3 games - 12 team European Cup - 4 groups of 3, quarters, semi, final
2 autumn internationals
3 game summer tour

That's 27 guaranteed games, and an optional 5. And leaves enough weekends free for a few enforced breaks.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Innings (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 13:31
The challenge, I think, is not about numbers at all. The numbers can be whatever the administrators want them to be. The problem is that the financial ambitions of the national unions, especially the RFU, and national professional leagues, have run beyond their ability to service them without all the income from internationals, tours and so on. There is no possibility of reducing the number of internationals, no possibility of the game being viable professionally on the much reduced number of games that your model proposes, and no possibility of the blazers giving up their importance as things stand.

The problem therefore reduces to one that is simple to state, impossible to solve: get administrators to admit that there is a problem, which is their responsibility to address and solve.

Perhaps cutting down on the overnight stays, trips in first class and pre-match lunches would make a few of the chairman, 7 executive directors and 11 other directors decide to retire. No body with 21 decision makers ever decides anything except that they're jolly important and need more room at the trough.



Innings

Points win matches: tries win hearts and minds.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 14:57
All posts full of common sense!
Nothing from other clubs supporters yet - which is a shame. It would be interesting to have a take on this perhaps from clubs which don't lose quite so many players to call ups.

I was trying to look at it from the reverse, so to speak. How many weeks should be sacrosanct for player welfare/training/'repair'?

If you assume that a meaningful pre season has to be six to eight weeks - that takes you back to mid to early July. Two weeks holiday with family takes you to end of June/middle of June. That leaves two weeks after the end of the season for international games. One - or two maximum in the summer. If you then add in a couple of weeks for operations and injury repairs - that basically rules out summer touring!

And we know that players who have had to take that break and couldnt be considered for summer tours have gone on record as saying just how fresh they feel and how much more prepared for the season - and for international selection!

Obviously an end to summer touring isnt going to happen - but should summer tours be every OTHER year! Or Two summers with tours - and then a fallow year - a bit like Glastonbury! Part of the issue with this is just the simple unremitting nature of the demands on the players with NO break at all.

The situation simply cant continue as it is - and like everyone here - I don't believe central contracts are fair to the clubs who bring through players for England. Why should we invest in them if they never play for us? Besides - we care for them- and their families - far better than England does!

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
F-F-F-FEZ (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 15:18
Every time the thorny issue of player welfare arises I start thinking on Centralised Contracts and then it's club vs Country and all hell breaks loose! This piece was interesting on the subject including the comments section;
CENTRALISED CONTRACTS

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Dolph42 (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 18:22
The issue is different for non internationals as opposed to internationals and internationals at successful clubs sides are impacted most significantly.

A non international (eg Brad) will play between 28 - 33 matches a year with 7 - 9 weeks off during the season. That seems ideal and allows them their 5 week holiday and 7 - 10 weeks of pre season.

For an international (eg Faz) they will play between 20 - 25 club matches a year and 11 or 12 internationals (assuming it’s not a World Cup or Lions year). So 31/32 - 36/37 matches. This includes 6 fallow weeks (1 each before AIs and Summer and 4 pre, post and during 6Ns), those aren’t holidays (except the 1 post 6Ns) as the likes of Brad would take in some of his 7 weeks off during the season though. That then provides 5 weeks holiday and 4 weeks pre season (not great but not terrible).

For us the issue is more impactful than say Quins or even Exe. Quins won’t play many knockouts so Robshaw will always be closer to 31/32 matches. As mandated by the RFU an international player needs an extra rest week in 1 of the 4 weeks after the 6Ns. For Exe last season that was easy - Euro QF week - for us not so.

My solution would be not to tinker to much:

- When there are 4 AIs players can only play in a max of 3 (you can’t reduce internationals below 11 due to the hold they have on the clubs globally)
- More funding and Cap space should be provided to clubs who supply internationals to supplement their squads

I wouldn’t put a further cap on numbers as teams who don’t play in knockouts would be adversely impacted but we know in reality that Owen won’t play more than 12 or maybe 13 matches a year for Sarries in the GP.

The other option is to mandate certain players to miss the first 3 weeks of the season. They would then get a longer pre season and be fresher with the lower number of matches, but I can’t see Sarries (or others) agreeing to it.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Sara'sman (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 18:35
I found the widespread support for Joe Marler's decision encouraging, showing an awareness that I'm not sure many of us had ten or so years ago. I also agree with much of what is written above. I've no idea of the fine detail of how many games/minutes players should play but I am certain that the 37 games Courtney Lawes played in his season culminating in the last Lions Tour was too many. And that more urgent research is needed, into the maximum number of games/minutes, both total and consecutively, and into the causes of injury. For now I'd suggest mandating a maximum of taking part in 25 (N.B. see (1) below) in any season (September – August). Billy's “Play fewer, pay less, last longer” to be enforced.

Partly in an effort to help in keeping our site alive over summer I drafted a couple of articles firstly outlining the issues that I feel rugby is facing then a possible “left field” solution. (Un)fortunately my laptop crashed and all was lost. It addressed "the Marler issue". What follows is that solution/idea without the detail. For me the No 1 priority facing rugby, by a long way, is player welfare.

Limit England's internationals to the 5 Six Nations, 3 in Autumn (including one v Tier2) and 2/3 Summer. Each player to play in no more than 8. In (successful) World Cup years of course, the Six Nations and subsequent summer tour will require new players to be capped. Good! We shouldn't be squeezing evermore from the same group.

I'd stop Lions tours, or leave them to the Celtic nations. They are too punishing on players at the end of a long season, far too intense physically with a history of serious foul play and often return players to their employers (clubs) and countries in a poor state. Lions tours have been superseded by the World Cup; it is not for the Home Nations to fund SH rugby.

Revise the Premiership to Two Divisions (mid-term of 8, initially of 8 and 6). Keep the current length/structure but:
P W D L w d l F A Pts

Prem1 clubs to play 14 games v other Prem1 (mainly outside IP [International Periods]), 8 v Prem2 (mainly during IP) worth a reduced 2/1/0 points, no bonus. [England players available for 11/14 (at least) + 6 Europe]

Prem 2 clubs to play 11 v Prem1 (previous season bottom two clubs only 10, their 11th v each other) worth 2/1/0, 10 v Prem2 (all outside IP). No play off but consider an end of season cup (2 div of 3, 2 games each, final). BT to broadcast at least 1 Prem2 club each week.

Automatic Promotion/Relegation between P1 and P2, but Premiership “Ring-fenced with Gate” - relegation only every (3 or 5) years and only if top National 1 club has an acceptable ground, business and academy case in (January) prior to season end.



(1) Knock out games are a problem! My solution is to keep the 25 as a “regular season limit” with the potential 2 Premiership and 3 European ko games to come with a penalty for the following season's allowance – a reduction of 1 (for 1 or 2 ko games,) 2 (for 3 or 4), 3 (for 5).

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
derbyshire fan (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 18:38
It is not just about how many games are played, it is time away from family and home. I travel a huge amount for business, but always make sure I am back home each weekend - partly for my own rest and recovery and partly to spend time with family. Eddie is making the England squad stay together for the entire training period, and most of the AI period with no ‘time off’ to go home. Do not underestimate how tough that is, even if your body isn’t being beaten up on the training field and in rugby matches. I thought that the Marler interview talked well about this aspect. My own view - no player should have to tour in two consecutive summers.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/10/2018 20:32 by derbyshire fan.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 19:59
This is why I love this site. Especially this board. I sincerely hope pundits are reading this - it would be nice to know if they are. They could learn a lot from all of you .....

The boys come first - and frankly, the clubs understand the players better than the England Machine. Churn em up. Spit em out. Keep the comments coming. I find it a breath of fresh air!

(Sm128)(Sm152)

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Dolph42 (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 21:08
Derbyshire, during AIs players can go home between a match and the Monday - not much time but some. Plus partners do join them at Pennyhill. The time away from home a rugby player spends is comparable or less than many other sports, it’s not a new factor to consider. No player is forced to go on any tour, they choose to go on them, and sometimes (e.g. Marler, Ashton) choose not to.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 21:16
But Dolph - if they choose not to, they get lambasted publicly for it - I remember the comments when Ashy decided not to tour, to support Melissa when the baby was born.... and they risk losing their place in the side for not being 'committed enough!' And it is the fact that it is every year - every summer, every christmas, maybe for ten years if their career is a long one. That is above and beyond, isnt it?

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Sara'sman (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 21:19
Superman - Much that I like re your suggestion, so please excuse me if I raise the following concerns:

* For me, your 32 games remains too many (yes my idea is 25 (+ up to 5, but with penalty!))
* Club rugby needs deep squads with meaningful games for all (to develop/keep interested). The likes of Titi would get none through rotation. Is more Anglo-Welsh type the answer?
* Clubs would lose significant home match income - 4 Prem (37%), 1 Hein (33%) with only 4 (not 6/7) teams in Top Tier Europe. TV/Sponsorship too.
* A problem with groups of 3 is that one team has the benefit of a free weekend before the next round
* RFU lose 0.5 SN and 1.5 AI per year (more if relegated!) - >£20m (c25% of their income?)
* Why 3 Summer Tour games if only 2 AI?
* Should we expect players to tour every summer?
* As you state, club fans would be unhappy with just a 9 game season
* As you also state the gin brigade would be unhappy with 2 fewer internationals

Genuinely not trying to demolish a promising idea, but keen to develop it.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Sara'sman (IP Logged)
03 October, 2018 21:48
Innings - with my pedant's hat on, your opening sentence is quickly contradicted by your
third! It is about numbers, numbers of £s included!

But I do agree with the gist of your argument; it is difficult to reduce one set of numbers (games played) without doing the same to another (£££££). The gin swillers have turned HQ into a money machine. They get the players too cheaply, charge too much and seek to squeeze ever more from their and our assets. They have to fund the community game (NZ fans love to tell us we have over 250k players yet still want an big share of RFU income). They don't need to be so profligate.

In my view, a slightly smaller number of internationals should give way to more Wembley/Big Game/HQ/St James … club games, so clubs can tap the "Twickers" market and grow the club game. I don't wish to see rugby internationals become second to the club game, nor do I wish to see them dominate it as in Wales/Ireland etc.



Something I copied a while back from The Guardian BTL:

"England games by decade:
1950s 43
1960s 48
1970s 50
1980s 61
1990s 91
2000s 104
The 2010s will break the record once again.

The way Ireland do it is not by games, it's by minutes. The centrally contracted players are allowed to play, I think, around 2,000 minutes (if even that). That amounts to 25 full games. That gives them the 11/12 internationals; 6 European group stage games; up to 3 knock-out European matches; and so 4-5 left for the Pro14.

But of course, very few players play the full 80 minutes every game (plus the Tier 2 Test in November is usually fringe players). Healy coming off on 50 minutes for McGrath gives the IRFU/Leinster another 30 minutes of Healy and another 50 minutes of McGrath (both centrally contracted) to play around with.

The other important thing to note is that this forces the provinces to continue to develop players. Tadhg Furlong undoubtedly benefited from more minutes for Leinster earlier in his career (the man is still only 25!) because Mike Ross was away with Ireland and allowed limited game time."

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Stopsy (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 04:05
Interesting and well constructed comment and arguments above, thanks.

For me it all comes down to money and control. The RFU want to force the issue as they missed the boat on the onset of professionalism and are seeking to regain control. Player welfare and limiting appearances are sacred tenets of the game as long as it isn't impacting England games (not just England obviously).

They take players in, break them, call up the next cab on the rank and leave the clubs to repair and do without the player.

There are far too many meaningless, in the context of rugby but not £££, games being played.

It use to be an exciting time to see who was touring in the autumn, knowing that they wouldn't be back for probably 4 or more years.

Now you only have to wait what seems like a few months.

With the games all available to watch on media then it further devalues the product.

I certainly do not want central contracts where I get to see my club dictated to and rarely get to see the "first" team.

There are too many games and not enough listening going on.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Dolph42 (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 06:46
Barnet I don’t think it’s above and beyond. Most players will probably take the view the next tour could be their last due to injury, form etc. So they live for the moment. Some choose otherwise such as Marler and good for him if that’s how he feels. All sports come with rough and smooth, time away from home in rugby is far less than other team and individual sports.

Unfortunately for club supporters our players grew up wanting to play for England before they did their clubs. While they can, the majority of players will be there for England chasing the glory rather than the extra money. Allied to this point is that reducing internationals would just put clubs further into debt so is a non starter on a number of levels.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 09:31
Hmm Dolph - whilst I do take your points to a degree, especially about them taking opportunity whilst it is still there (injuries and actually deselection due to someone else falling into favour!) I think the revelations Marler made indicate that it really is above and beyond, simply because there is no end to it, provided they are good enough and fit enough physically. But this is more about mental preparadness and the emotional strain on them as well - and on their families let's not forget. It is tougher now than it has ever been because of the sheer pressure from the Unions to make more money and schedule more games. Genuinely I dont think the argument that other sports may be worse means that rugby shouldnt be waking up to this issue and doing something about it! Its a bit like saying that head injuries in American Football are worse than in rugby, so we don't need to bother ourselves with that because it isn't as bad! (You know what I mean ....!)

Of course they want to play for their country - at least I would hope that they would! But I suspect that the reality is much less attractive than the idea of it. But again, I wouldnt assume that somehow that means being part of their club becomes second best. Talking to the boys concerned I never get that impression at all. In fact quite the reverse! One thing I should say was that I did get chance to talk to a couple of them last weekend after the England camp and they did say that the tone had definitely changed and it was much better than it had been. Maybe the message is getting through and maybe John Mitchell is making his presence felt, who knows!

I think there is a two way argument on your point about putting clubs further into debt with less internationals. If we could field our players more regularly and they didnt end up injured by international games and training so often, maybe the gates/season tickets/opportunity for exhibition matches at big stadia would increase. I dont think the clubs which supply most players get properly compensated - but that is a bit of a digression on this thread which I really want to keep to player welfare - especially emotional and mental welfare.

Stopsy! Lovely to have you stop by! Welcome as ever and am in total agreement - central contracts would be a disaster for the club game. No, thank you! Good luck at HQ next weekend!

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Wampum (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 09:43
Chiefs fan here just accepting the offer to comment but cant add much to the debate! Except, RFU just built new corporate facilities at HQ and have to fund it so wont be reducing this income stream (priority? Not to the regular club supporter).

To cope with the demands of todays game it appears Exe have decided to run a large squad by contracting a lot of our academy players and not signed many 'names' It means that game time will be less and some players may move on for more regular spots or more money. Will have to see what happens over the year but we've not started too badly(!).

Its just not an easy one to solve and when you look at our site its the same comments - not that interested in England. Fill the seats with wealthy Corporates and thrash the players seems to be the way its going. If this cash eventually trickles down to the clubs (including the grass roots) then it may work. So well done Joe and enjoy your rugby again.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Innings (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 14:40
Sorry Dolph 42, but you choose to ignore the fact that the suicide rate among professional sports people is just the tip of a very serious problem with the well-being of these young people. Of course they take the flogging for the glory and money, but sometimes, like any ambitious young people, they need protecting from their own commitment. The RFU, and every other body, has more interest in the money than the well-being. After all, there are plenty of others willing to take the players' places, and the bills must be paid.



Innings

Points win matches: tries win hearts and minds.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 15:58
Innings - exactly so. And as several people have pointed out here - this does not only affect those young people, but their young families too. I do honestly believe that the clubs have more of an interest in their overall well being than the national Unions - well at least I know that Saracens definitely does. I am sure that other clubs have similarly realised (or are currently realising) that if the players' families are happy and contented and looked after and that the player is encouraged to look beyond rugby, plan and pursue other interests, that the player thrives as a result.

There does seem to be a sea change in the way sportspeople are more openly discussing issues such as family separation and depression, especially after retirement. I applaud them for doing so and starting this discussion. It is only by doing so we can begin to formulate solutions.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
SarrieSaint (IP Logged)
04 October, 2018 16:23
My solution which I've mentioned before centred on England and English club rugby would have two different approaches.

A reduced Premiership and Championship with the Championship being taken professional. Ten teams in each. "Pay" offs still for the Premiership as I can't see a separate International and club season being possible with so many conflicting interests but none in the Championship and straightforward promotion and relegation between the two (no additional play-offs)

A ten game season for Internationals but with the caveat that the summer tour is an experimental one only. It should be only for players in the wider EPS squad and it should be coaches not by the England DoR but by a combination of coaches under him with a view to seeing how they step up (in a similar way to Gustard and Baxter under Lancaster) I would have the main England International team available for say a week over the summer to the England DoR in the UK and for them to spend the time doing no fitness or contact work but run drills or study plays etc. 6 Nations and AIs (only 3) would be as before. One additional thought might be to make the first game of the AIs (in which case it would be the fourth) a fixture against the Babas/Fiji/Georgia/etc with the summer touring squad.

I know there are myriad problems but I believe the above would help create a stronger Premership, a stronger more competitive Championship. It would also reduce the amount of International rugby for the "23" but widen the experience bas both of players and coaches.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Quin Kong (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 09:51
Why not go back to having a possibles v probables type thing. Possibles playing the Autumn internationals, probables playing six nations a combined team playing summer tests but with stipulation that on a rolling basis no player can go on more than two consecutive tours (ie autumn internationals and six nations means you HAVE to have the summer off).



QUIN KONG

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
1876-Fez (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 10:22
Quote:
Quin Kong
Why not go back to having a possibles v probables type thing. Possibles playing the Autumn internationals, probables playing six nations a combined team playing summer tests but with stipulation that on a rolling basis no player can go on more than two consecutive tours (ie autumn internationals and six nations means you HAVE to have the summer off).

Nice to see Quons fan still on here, shame they moved away.



SUPPORT Help for Heroes:
Help for Heroes

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Rinkadink (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 10:52
I don't think that anyone suggesting making a "new" second tier has much experience of the current championship, it will kill clubs (both those currently in champ and GP) and any claims of being fully professional are pretty laughable considering that was the aim from changing it from ND1 to the current championship. Usually these suggestions do come from those affiliated with the "top" clubs who are in the champions cup, somewhat unsurprisingly and have little fear of relegation and the effect that has on finances, recruitment, retention, competitive fixtures, etc. It hasn't worked in the past and it won't now, guaranteed average support plummets too which is very bad for the game and commercially.

There is a reason the best leagues in the world consist of 14+ teams, this is what we should be aiming for in the near-medium future and is far more realistic given the current state of clubs. Drop a nothing cup competition to accommodate the new fixtures; the new premiership cup that replaced the anglo-welsh would be my suggestion, and you've also reduced player work load for some teams who would have made it through the pool.

Looking below the premiership you have several teams vying for the increased club numbers in the division above. Irish, Ealing and Pirates are the obvious choices at the moment but with the changes the likes of Doncaster, Bedford and co would probably consider a serious tilt at the top flight and provide a hell of a battle with promotion/relegation intact albeit in a slightly different format to what we have now. There are no benefits to any of the current premiership clubs dropping down this season, and the championship would gain little benefit of their presence next season as it's most likely the top spot is yet again a foregone conclusion. Moving down the championship table a couple of spaces the competition really heats up and if this area was fashioned into the top of the table by promoting the top two sides into the prem it creates a very different looking and fiercely competitive league, plus grows the professional game with more top tier sides. There are also current third tier sides who would massively benefit from being promoted to the championship.

Now the biggest problem with the above is that the premiership kitty is now split between 14 sides instead of 12. Some clubs will be unhappy with this and likely block any attempts to spread the wealth any further so sadly it's a non-starter. Unless of course the deal is sweetened by a buy out of the P shares which lands each current holder an instant cash injection of many millions, now where have I heard of something like that before...

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Rinkadink (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 11:04
Also the RFU doesn't give a monkey's about player welfare, especially given the current regime of Eddie Jones and co who are deliberately pushing players way too far because he believes all those experts on the human body are wrong just like how years ago it was considered "impossible" to run a four minute mile. Beast them until they become unstoppable supermen, basically. See his speech which caused uproar for the tongue in cheek comments about the Celtic nations where he outlines his thinking and methods. See Marler. See Maro's comments about returning to a loving environment. See comments from the clubs. See the attrition rate of players in England camps and matches...

It is the RFU, not the clubs who need to think more seriously about player welfare. Reduce the amount of internationals, which World Rugby recently commented upon saying they're devalued at the very least. Bring in a new regime who will work with clubs and look after the elite squad and better prepare the upcoming talent and age groups.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 11:34
There are too many games and too many vested interests.

I would like to see the Prem reduced to 10 teams, no 4th AI, 6 Nations played in a block with no gaps and no clashes with the Prem. Wages would have to fall - the Billy V conjecture - players would be better off.

I have no idea how to deliver the plan. Where's my next G&T?



£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 17:11
Is this really about how many premiership games there are?
For me this is more about stupid pointless internationals which mean nothing and are repeated far too often for the Corpulents (aka Gin Brigade above).
I do take your point Rinkadink but honestly think you are mistaken about the concern in the 'top clubs' about how destructive relegation can be. Nigel is always saying how - if you look at us from a business model - any investor would be nuts to stick money in a rugby club which with a couple of bad seasons could end up out of the premiership and potentially in serious trouble. I also completely endorse your comments re how little the RFU cares about player welfare. Why should they? They have a pool of 12 clubs littered with potential recruits, fostered by a system which is designed to do so with the EQP match quota and the rule preventing foreign employed players from being selected (unless in exceptional circumstances). They pick them up, destroy their confidence and rebuild them (the Eddie Way) and then when they break them in training or in matches, they chuck them back to the clubs to fix up physically and mentally and pick up someone new.

Is it my imagination, but didnt it used to be a really big deal when the All blacks played England because it really didnt happen very often! Same with the Boks - Same with Australia.

I KNOW we need to encourage Italian rugby, but does it really do them any good to get a spanking every single year by pretty much everyone? Isnt it counter productive?

Yes the clubs play 22 games - in Saracens case, regularly 24. Even if we dropped one or two teams they would still be playing 20. Those arent (according to Eddie and the England coaches) the same intensity as internationals (though you could have fooled me!).

There are so many things to fix here, it is frankly depressing.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Berkshirequin (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 19:14
As the number of games are an issue along with the time away from families etc....

Ditch the European competitions and have a British Premiership & Cup. Keep the Prem at 12 clubs with the premiership leaders awarded with a trophy at the end of the regular season. Convince the Celts to ditch the saffers and italians; add London Irish and a third Scottish team bringing the comp back to Pro12; award a trophy to the league leader after the 22 games are up. No premiership games being played during the international windows.

Then the top 2 from each competition take part in the play-off semi's.. maximum 24 games.

No more than 3 AI's + 5 6N international games (non-internationals play in a cup competition)... 8 games

Total games played 32 with 6/7 weeks rest during the season.

This probably would have been a workable solution when the game first went professional but I can't imagine anyone would would go for this now... No-one would want to give up the European Comps especially the Irish teams.

I think the reality is that we are stuck with what we have...

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Rupes (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 20:00
Agree that there is lots to fix - but that's still, in my view, the growing pains of professionalism, in that there are lots of areas within the game for which no-one has true responsibility.

The club vs country conundrum will never be solved to everyone's satisfaction. In the case of the RFU, they will argue that the money they make out of the autumn internationals will enable the development of junior rugby, academies and therefore the next generation of players - ie it becomes a self-fulfilling process from people spending money at Twickenham, to developing players, who people then watch at Twickenham and so on...

And let's not forget that the RFU are one of the more monied unions as I understand it, so I cannot see too many international unions voting to effectively reduce their income! That one will run and run in my view.

Dealing specifically with player welfare - for me, the lead has to come from World Rugby. The international unions have shown that they don't really hold enough sway with the clubs to genuinely make changes to look after the players. Therefore, I think it needs to fall to World Rugby to employ all the medical experts they need to FROM OUTSIDE THE GAME to truly assess the effect of force / over-playing on players and come back to the unions with proposals. Then mandate, across World Rugby, how often players can play to manage welfare.

I like the Irish model based on minutes played and wonder if that's something for World Rugby to look at, but it has to come down from above as the various unions have shown that they are unable to solve this by themselves.

That mandate will then be a condition of a club being affiliated to World Rugby / international union and allowing them to play in any official competition. If the clubs don't like it, form a breakaway but it will be very hard for the clubs to achieve this with credibility once an empirically formulated mandate has been sent down from World Rugby.

Final thought - we have to move away from thinking parochially about the Premiership. The Prem as it stands is hugely loss-making, with a product of variable quality, with interest and attendance not growing as anyone would want (attendances are flat). The Prem cannot solve the problems above by themselves, they have to work in conjunction with the RFU and, more importantly, standards and mandates which should be in place but are currently missing from World Rugby!

Sorry, that's a bit of a stream of thoughts not necessarily ordered correctly but BS is right, there's lots to fix!

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Peakcotrain1867 (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 20:24
Is it not as simple to say each player can only play 30 games a season...

International players play less for there clubs.

Simple ........

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
05 October, 2018 21:47
Quote:
Peakcotrain1867
Is it not as simple to say each player can only play 30 games a season...
International players play less for there clubs.

Simple ........
But of course - it just isnt.
International players cant play less for their clubs or why would the clubs bother to invest in bringing International players on in the first place. it costs them money and time. Why would fans bother to buy season tickets if they dont see their best players most games and never win trophies because the national teams are knackering them? What incentive is there for clubs to co-operate with the national union if shooting themselves in the proverbial foot is the outcome? Worst still - in Sarries case for instance - with SO many players missing, we would end up constantly in the bottom half of the table or even facing relegation. It is so unfair as it is.

Rupes - so much to agree with and despair about in what you say. But who in world rugby has the bottle to employ external experts if the outcome is to reduce the number of matches key players are available? Again - they are more interested in money than in player welfare as so many posters here sadly agree. It is a terrible indictment of the rugby authorities, but it seems to be the case. The clubs I would argue are far more interested in the emotional and physical welfare of individual players and their families, because they have to persuade them to stay when they cant just automatically throw money at them, because of the salary cap constraints. Neither can they be so easily replaced if they are injured. As I say - it takes time to bring a cohort of players through and money to identify and sign an external one and then integrate them into the team.

I wonder how we move away from thinking parochially about the premiership. Yes it is loss making but it is also deep rooted emotionally. There is such history associated with it. We recently saw a potential investment which sounded enormous, but with a very high and unacceptable price tag associated with that investment. I dont think we have heard the last of that and that initial approach may lead to other more reputable PE companies examining the league offering. I agree that the quality is variable - but isnt the attraction of it that you simply dont know at the moment whether a team is going to put in an astonishing and unexpected performance - or a pretty dire one. For my part most of the games I have watched this season have been spirited high scoring affairs. (Last weeks Leicester/Sale game being the worst IMHO - sorry guys!)

So I'm not feeling upbeat at all about this. Just pretty fed up and worried for this generation of rugby players, who frankly deserve better than being treated as a disposable commodity.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Peakcotrain1867 (IP Logged)
06 October, 2018 06:04
It is though...
International players would be then more spread out between clubs.
That's price clubs pay for signing international players
If they only play 10 Premiership games then so be it.
You don't need a team of international players to be successful (Exeter don't have an issues)
Yes international academy players should be removed from the salary cap
Other issues only need fine tuning

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
The Bard (IP Logged)
06 October, 2018 07:33
Exeter are a great team, but some of their domestic success is because they don’t have a lot of internationals rather than being despite it. Probably why they also come up short in Europe, when that extra quality is needed against the top teams.
I guess on of the real issues is how do you plan early in the season how to spread out the appearances of your international players when you might have 5 knockout games at the end? Today is a good case in point, do we really need to be playing Mako?

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
06 October, 2018 13:54
Quote:
Peakcotrain1867
It is though...
International players would be then more spread out between clubs.
That's price clubs pay for signing international players
If they only play 10 Premiership games then so be it.
You don't need a team of international players to be successful (Exeter don't have an issues)
Yes international academy players should be removed from the salary cap
Other issues only need fine tuning

They do though.
We hardly sign international players! Most of ours are brought through the academy - or coached so well as imports that never having been considered for selection, they attract notice. (such as Mike Rhodes). Even our academy boys are on the England Radar - Maro was when only 19 or 20, Ben Earl and Nick Isiekwe as well.
Frankly - it is a double edged sword that we lose so many when directly compared with teams like Exeter. So I disagree with your comment completely. Except for the removal of academy players from the salary cap! That should have been done ages ago.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Innings (IP Logged)
07 October, 2018 10:12
According to today's Telegraph, the RFU, PRA and RPA are creating a jointly-funded programme of mental health support, based on work already done by the RPA. Christian day, the RPA player liaison officer, late of Saints, who joined the RPA recently, says he's shocked by the large number of players who have used a helpline that RPA set up to give players access to advice about how and where to get help. Day says that his own experience includes ex-players who have ended their own lives after their playing days ended.



Innings

Points win matches: tries win hearts and minds.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
BarnetSarrie (IP Logged)
07 October, 2018 12:26
That is laudable and long long overdue Innings.

But it feels like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted - and for Christian Day to say he is shocked is surprising to me. I stay in touch with a lot of the boys long after they leave us - (you know I've been involved with Sarries for a long time now!) as friends not rugby players and it is ALWAYS a difficult adjustment even for those with supportive families, a career outside of the game and a life to look forward to.

There are so many issues about retiring from Rugby whether voluntarily or through sudden injury. Loss of the camaraderie about being so close to a group of guys with the same aims, the same strictures, the fun and banter, the shared direction, the support network around being a player (especially with a club like ours which really does go above and beyond) which then disappears, - not immediately to Sarries credit, but it does have to end. The recognition as being someone special and famous (worse for the England boys and internationals than for the club players)and being introduced with the dreaded 'he used to', loss of direction and just the boredom of getting up as we all do and having to do a nine to five day, losing fitness (and that has a physiological emotional impact too) and frankly just adjusting to being 'normal'.

It is worse in a way being in a team sport than being in an individual one. The pressure on family is immense. In fact I think in a way it is worse for the wives, girlfriends, parents and kids than for the player themselves. The partners look forward to a normal life outside of rugby when they aren't left behind for weeks on end to cope, or have to adjust social life constantly to fit around a single person in the family. Then when it happens, they have to deal with all of the above.

Returning to the title of the thread - I am so impressed that Joe Marler had the guts to raise the awareness of all of this. But I hope the help planned extends to the families as well as the players.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
07 October, 2018 13:25
One might infer from his mouthing off after Luke Pearce awarded a free kick, which became a penalty (what's happened to the 'retreat 10 metres?), Marler might already be suffering mental impairment of some sort!



£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Highbury Saracen (IP Logged)
07 October, 2018 15:05
Quote:
TonyTaff
One might infer from his mouthing off after Luke Pearce awarded a free kick, which became a penalty (what's happened to the 'retreat 10 metres?), Marler might already be suffering mental impairment of some sort!

I thought he was trying to get suspended for next game TT!



European champions 2016 & 2017

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
TonyTaff (IP Logged)
08 October, 2018 10:43
Quote:
Highbury Saracen
Quote:
TonyTaff
One might infer from his mouthing off after Luke Pearce awarded a free kick, which became a penalty (what's happened to the 'retreat 10 metres?), Marler might already be suffering mental impairment of some sort!

I thought he was trying to get suspended for next game TT!

(Sm22) Who have they got next? Heidelberg? The Agen Espoirs?



£721.05 (*) donated to the Saracens Foundation due to visits to the Sarries frontpage [www.rugbynetwork.net]

Please read and submit articles for publication. (*) As at October 31, 2018.

 
Re: Marler's revelations - Warning bells? (Open to other boards for comment! )
Rupes (IP Logged)
09 October, 2018 18:06
Good news from the PRA.

If we (as a board) were to put together a list of "Problems to Address", what would they be in order?

On the basis that there is no game without players, I'll go for:

1. Player Welfare - including all mental health problems, over-playing etc...

2. Calendar - not just internationals, but let's dovetail internationals and leagues so that there is one joined up calendar. Will be much easier when 1 is agreed and solved.

3. Laws - agree interpretations for referees and use of TMO.

LOTS more, all contributions welcome. But I still maintain that this cannot be resolved without World Rugby leading the way and utilising external people to drive informed decision making.


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