Hooper calls for player representation at the World Rugby table

International
by Iain Payten

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has called for a players’ representative to be given a seat at World Rugby’s key decision making bodies ahead of discussions around the contentious Nations Championship concept.

In a release issued by the International Rugby Players organisation, Hooper said players lacked an ability to “exert any influence” on major decisions made by World Rugby and that should change.

The IRP have been vocal in recent weeks as international debate rages about the proposed Nations Championship, which is set to be the centre piece of discussions in Dublin on Thursday night (AEDT)

Current and former players from around the world joined a conference call a fortnight ago to express their concerns about the format, with Ireland star Johnny Sexton and New Zealand captain Kieran Read quoted with concerns about workload and World Rugby's priorities.

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Thursday's World Rugby-led talks, which will involve the bosses of all Tier One nations, along with Fiji and Japan, have been called to try and seek consensus about the Nations Championship.

There was huge outcry two weeks ago when media reports suggested Japan and the USA would be included in the Nations Championship, with no promotion-relegation mechanism for at least a decade.

That would have effectively locked out Pacific Island nations from joining the top tier competition, but World Rugby later clarified its proposal was to allow for promotion-relegation across three tiers of the Nations Championship.

The IRP pledged to join the Dublin talks with an open mind but Hooper said players were still determined to get more of a say in the major decisions of World Rugby.

“We want to be part of key decisions in the game, however at the moment we don’t have a proper seat at the table to exert any influence,” Hooper said.

Michael Hooper is off-contract. Photo: Getty Images"Players understand, better than anyone, what happens at the coal face and how certain decisions impact both the players and the broader game, so it would be counterproductive to cast the player view aside.

"Moving forward we want to ensure that the players have independently appointed representation on the World Rugby Executive Committee and other key World Rugby decision making bodies.”

World Rugby will also potentially have to compete for control in Europe after news that CVC was considering a big-money bid for a stake in Six Nations, which would potentially prevent the introduction of a Nations Championship.

Outside of that debate, the IRP statement also reiterated a need for influence to extend to Sevens and women's XVs as well.

"It’s great to see solidarity among players and a shared sense that we need be integral to major decisions,' Australian Sevens co-captain and Wallaroo Shannon Parry said.

"As a senior women’s international, I want to see our athletes at the forefront of all discussions into the future and to be part of the growth of the game.”