World Rugby has signed a new agreement with the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA), through which players are set to be given a greater say on decision-making within the sport.
The two organisations have sealed a fresh Memorandum of Understanding, which runs from 2017 to 2020.
Under the agreement, World Rugby’s financial commitment to the body will double to £1.5m (€1.7m/$2m) over the period, while both elite and amateur players will receive greater representation within World Rugby’s decision-making structures.
It is hoped the partnership will build on the success of the two parties’ inaugural agreement, which was signed in 2007. That agreement has since addressed issues such as player welfare, laws review and discipline and athlete development programmes, and also seen the establishment of the Pacific Islands Players’ Association.
The initial agreement has also resulted in greater representation on the Laws Review Group, Rugby Committee, Women’s Advisory Committee and the Rugby Athletes’ Commission.
The new agreement will seek to address key international issues for the betterment of the global game, along with the joint management of the Rugby Athletes’ Commission and player consultation and input into the annual World Rugby Medical Commission Conference.
A focus will also be placed on all aspects of player welfare, such as concussion, mental health and player load, while a pledge has been made to work on collaborative projects such as agent registration and personal development programmes.
A continued commitment will be made to research projects such as post-tournament player surveys and reports, while players will be proactively involved in game-related matters such as international player release, eligibility and availability, law reviews, and competition, tournament and season structure.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This agreement represents a defining moment for players around the world and reflects World Rugby’s ongoing commitment to ensure that players have a voice at every level of our decision-making processes, that we continue to ensure that players are at the heart of all our decisions, and that we listen and learn from their experiences to enhance their environment on and off the field.
“This renewed agreement will deliver a framework for a constructive partnership based on a common aim to further collaborate on areas of mutual interest that are key considerations for players from welfare and medical matters to career development after rugby and creating a framework that manages and standardises the role of agents.”
IRPA chief executive Omar Hassanein added: “This MoU greatly enhances our relationship with World Rugby and is fantastic news, for not only all professional players at the elite level but also for the game itself. It is a huge positive to have players better represented at boardroom level when key decisions are being made that affect the game of rugby.
“With IRPA acting as guardian to the entire professional player group globally, both parties are conscious that the strength of the relationship is in respecting the views of all stakeholders – not least the players themselves who are integral to the success of the game.”