World Rugby have insisted that players’ welfare is their priority in response to an open letter from a new lobby group called ‘Progressive Rugby.’
The new group, which includes former England international James Haskell and former Wales international Alix Popham, have made a number of suggestions on how to reduce the risk of concussion.
Included in their suggestions are a limit to the number of contact training sessions players can partake in every season, re-examining the tackle height limit and reducing the number of substitutions allowed in each match.
‘It’s not us vs World Rugby.’
Haskell was speaking to Good Morning Britain about what the lobby group are proposing while explaining that Progressive Rugby are more than happy to work with the sport’s governing body.
“It’s all about us trying to work with World Rugby. There are so many legal cases at the moment coming out with players who have early-onset dementia and various other neurological issues.
“One of the things we want to try is to limit contact in training. The NFL did a similar model where they were only allowing players to have 60 contact sessions per season. If you look at rugby players that will sometimes be upwards of 200.
Progressive Rugby is a new lobby group wanting safety changes in Rugby Union. They’re calling for more protection for players from the life-threatening consequences of head traumas and repeated concussions. @jameshaskell explains the reforms that the lobby group is looking for pic.twitter.com/CQYtLAvlpA
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) February 18, 2021
“It’s about us trying to raise some awareness and really help. It’s not us vs World Rugby which I think sometimes is made out in the press,” Haskell explained.
‘We are always guided by scientific and medical knowledge.’
The sport’s global governing body released a statement regarding the forming of the new lobby group, saying they “welcome constructive debate” regarding player welfare.
“The welfare of the global rugby family is, and has always been, World Rugby’s priority. We take our responsibility very seriously and care deeply about our past, present and future players.
“That is why we ensure that players are at the heart of our discussions through International Rugby Players, and that is why we value and welcome constructive debate, respect opinions and listen to suggestions that advance welfare.
“We are progressive, which is why as scientific and medical knowledge and societal understanding continues to evolve, rugby evolves with it.
“We are always guided by medical and scientific consensus to inform our concussion education, prevention and management strategies.
“Clearly these members of our rugby family love the game and want it to be the best it can be. We do too.
“We are encouraged that the group are championing a number of initiatives that are already operational or being considered and we are open to constructive discussions with them regarding their proposals,” the statement read.