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Jonny Sexton: Time to develop a global rugby season to protect players

The professional players’ union has urged chiefs to draw up a new plan.

Jonny Sexton: joined-up thinking needed.
Jonny Sexton: joined-up thinking needed.
Image: NPHO/Billy Stickland

IRELAND OUT HALF Jonathan Sexton says rugby’s top officials need to ‘get in a room’ and thrash out a new integrated global season for players.

The call from the victorious Lions No 10 — who will celebrate a birthday and his wedding this week — comes amid growing concerns for player welfare amongst professional players.

The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) – the worldwide representative body for professional rugby players – held a conference in Australia recently and considered the possibility of moving the June test match window until the last three weeks of July, beginning in 2016.

The move would see Northern Hemisphere club competitions starting a month later, enabling more of their domestic competitions to be played after the Christmas break, potentially provide more breathing space for their respective finals series’ and improving player availability for test matches.

In the south the change could do away with Super Rugby’s month-long break and allow players an extended pre-season, something that has been sought for years.

“We see this initiative as beneficial for the global game” Racing Metro’s new big-money signing, Sexton said today. “From a player perspective, we urge our leaders to get in a room together, take a positive attitude and see what can be done.”

IRPA Chairman Damian Hopley added: “We’re in a unique position – for the first time since rugby went professional, the major Northern and Southern Hemisphere competition and commercial structures are on the table at the same time.

“This is the ideal time to seriously consider change that will secure player welfare initiatives.”

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