Sometimes it feels like the people in charge of the various rugby unions around the world are trying to ruin the game. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the ridiculous concept of extending the Aviva Premiership to a 10 month season from the 2019-2020 season onwards.
I love rugby. I love to play it and I love to watch it. What I don’t want to watch is a watered down product because players are getting injured more and more frequently and because stars are leaving the game – be it through retirement or to the other code – to get away from playing one of the most brutal sports in the world for five-sixths of a year.
One man on the bandwagon for the 10 month season is Exeter chairman Tony Rowe. Rowe – a chairman remember, not a player – suggests that by extending the season by a month it will cause a more “balanced out” schedule. He believes that a week-long break in November, and then again in March, will be enough to somehow make this worth it for the players.
Let’s forget for a moment that some of those players won’t even get such a break because they are busy playing international matches. I guess Rowe does not understand the daily grind that comes with being a professional athlete in 2017. All those hours spent in the gym, the time used to recover from knocks and injuries that never really have time to heal. I guess in his mind a week off means that the players can disappear off down the boozer for seven days as if we were still in the 1940s.
Basically, Rowe has zero clue what he is talking about.
Rugby Players Association chairman Christian Day had the following to say about this proposal:
This is the first time I’ve seen a proposal with no positives for the players, so why would we agree to it?
It is a salient point and one that suggests that the players will fight until the end to stop this increase in the season length taking place. The NFL – one of the few sports comparable to rugby union physically – plays a 16 game regular season over 17 weeks between early September and early January. The players get months off to heal, before hitting their preseason hard and giving fans their best effort every week for those four and a half months of the season.
If the powers that be really cared about player welfare they would drop the Aviva Premiership from 12 teams to 10. It will never happen as money dictates sport, but that would give a good sized season with time for international breaks and for the players to get the physical and mental rest they need.
Sometimes less is more. Rowe and the rest of his crew will be better served by remembering that as this process plays out.
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