All Blacks skipper Kieran Read highlights major concerns with new World League tournament

Source: 1News

Top rugby players from around the world have weighed in with their thoughts of the new 12-team World League tournament, proposed to begin in 2020, with the majority of players concerned about "player welfare and integrity" of the game.

Kieran Read calls for calm after the Wallaby fightback
Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship  match, Australia Wallabies vs New Zealand All Blacks, Sydney, Australia. Saturday 19 August 2017. Photo: Paul Seiser /

The International Rugby Players Council spoke earlier today via conference call, to discuss their views about the new tournament deal,

The conference call included nine of the world's top ten captains.

All Blacks skipper and IRPC member Kieran Read said players' welfare needs to be protected.

"We need to be very careful that we balance the commercial needs of the game, with the player welfare needs and ensure the quality and integrity of matches meets expectations," said Read.

"Fans want to see meaningful games; they don't want to see fatigued players playing a reduced quality of rugby as part of a money-driven, weakened competition that doesn't work for the players and clubs.

"With new technologies, new broadcast deals and new money coming into the sport, this is a crucial moment for rugby and one that many players are generally excited about.

"However, we have to make sure that the integrity of the game and welfare of the players is protected."

Irish first-five and IRPC president Jonathan Sexton raised concerns about overloading players at the end of the year.

The AIG Rugby Weekend, Solider Field, Chicago, USA 5/11/2016
Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton is tackled by All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett and New Zealand flanker Sam Cane during a Test match at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"The issue of player load has never been so topical, however it needs to be properly understood," said Sexton

"To suggest that players can play five incredibly high-level test matches in consecutive weeks in November is out of touch and shows little understanding of the physical strain this brings."

Manu Samoa captain and IRPC member Chris Vui said excluding the Pacific Island nations from the tournament, will only weaken the teams such as Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

"For countries in this bracket and for Pacific Islanders in particular, our biggest issue has always been the 'club vs country' factor. We feel that a 12-year deal is not workable, particularly when it presents no hope of advancement during that period," said Vui.

"This will have a dangerous knock-on effect of luring senior players away from their countries and more towards the clubs, which is the exact opposite of what we’re all trying to achieve."

Senior players from around the globe were united in their concern for the proposed format, including:

*Player load challenges around multiple top-level test matches across different countries and time-zones over consecutive weeks

*Increased long-haul travel in short time frames

*A lack of real opportunities for Tier Two nations to progress

*Increased conflicts between country v club demands and Regulation 9 release periods

*Potential impact on Rugby World Cup and Lions tours

*The long-term quality and integrity of the international game