Jeff Probyn not especially sympathetic towards the overplaying argument.

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Jeff Probyn not especially sympathetic towards the overplaying argument. Empty Jeff Probyn not especially sympathetic towards the overplaying argument.

Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 08 Jul 2016, 4:24 pm

http://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/features/columnists/jeff-probyn/26326/jeff-probyn-column-spare-a-thought-for-those-on-the-treadmill-of-normal-life/

...Once again there is a call to reduce the workload on players who have, we are told, been playing for an entire year, starting in June 2015 and finishing last week.

First, it was only the World Cup squad that were called to training sessions, not games, last June, while the rest of the professional game didn’t start its season until mid-October some six weeks later than the usual early September start.

Second, of all the players, Mike Brown has played the most minutes of any player this season but even he did not pass the magic 2,560 minutes (32 full games) that would have seen him in breach of the RFU playing limit.

While I understand the fact that many players (especially internationals) feel they are on a never-ending treadmill from one season merging with the next, so do many people in less pleasurable work environments.

I suppose for me and the generations who played and still play amateur rugby, the game was, and is, our escape from the daily treadmill of work and that is why I find it hard to understand the continual moaning about the workload faced by modern professional players.

One thing I do know is even if they increased the break in the season to ten weeks, the players would still have to maintain some level of training to keep fitness close to the required levels.

Those of us from the amateur game remember how hard the first few weeks of pre-season training felt after the summer break and almost passing out in the first few scrums as pressure mounted.

For some players who have a preponderance to injury, it is important that they take time to make sure they recover fully from any injury before taking part in the game again, so the idea of taking a sabbatical will work for them but not everyone needs, or wants, one.

I was lucky enough to play my entire career without suffering any long-term injuries that stopped me playing for more than a couple of games (although concussion in ’89 did cost me a place on the Lions tour) and I have to say that anytime when I was fit I looked forward to the next time I could play.

What puzzles me is why RPA chairman Damian Hopley keeps banging on about the international game and how the number should either be curtailed or restructured as part of a global season.

The international game finances the whole professional game with clubs heavily reliant on their respective unions (apart from France) for the funds to manage the game. Surely, it would make more sense to shorten the club season than reduce the number of international matches as they provide the money for the clubs to survive.

It is RPA’s primary job to ensure the welfare of all players and not just the high profile internationals who have better care than most anyway.

If, for instance, the Premiership clubs were to do away with the play-offs that would enable the season to be shortened and the vast majority of professional players (which should be RPA’s first concern) would be able to take a longer summer break.

Then we have Damian talking about players suffering Lions burnout next year, well I hate to say it but they don’t have to go do they? Just like the South Sea islanders who refuse the chance to represent their countries in RWC; nobody can force players to accept the offer of a Lions tour and play.

The players can chose to accept what will be a very lucrative short-term contract to travel and play for the Lions or say: “Thanks but, no, I need the summer off,” and stay at home.

The Lions are the No.1 brand in world rugby but they only survived professionalism because they are a cash cow almost on parallel with RWC for the countries that take part in the tour.

Next year New Zealand will make a fortune hosting the tour, the home unions will do the same for supplying the team, and that money will be used to fund the professional game in all those countries ensuring that clubs and provinces can pay the members of RPA, i.e. the players.

If our star international players all said No to the offer of a tour place next summer, the Lions would still tour with those players who accept, even if it is a weakened squad but that could sound the death knell for that great rugby institution.

Modern players are professionals and can choose whether or not they take part in the ‘extra’ international games or not. If they play, they are paid well so they should stop moaning and get on with it.

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Post by yappysnap on Fri 08 Jul 2016, 5:55 pm

Don't beat around the bush Jeff, tell us what you really think...

And to a point I agree with him.

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Post by Poorfour on Fri 08 Jul 2016, 7:43 pm

The point he's either missing or refusing to take seriously is that the professional game is now much more intense than it was in his day.

This isn't really about the players wanting a reduced workload, it's about how many careers will be ended early because of injury or how many years will be lost to it. And internationals are justifiably the focus because a) the international game is the highest intensity part of the game; b) internationals tend to play more minutes - at least in England - because clubs want them to play club games and international games extend the season; and c) because if you want public sympathy, they are your best known players.

I think, to borrow Eddie's words, he's writing a newspaper column and may have been a bit naughty.
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Post by asoreleftshoulder on Sat 09 Jul 2016, 10:42 am

It's a fairly poor point,just because rugby was a serious hobby for him,that doesn't mean it's the same for the players now.It's a job,it's an extremely intense and probably fairly monotonous job in the day to day sense.Only an elite few get rich from it and the majority end up physically damaged from playing.
It's a bloody tough way to make a living.

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Post by Barney McGrew did it on Sat 09 Jul 2016, 12:50 pm

"although concussion in ’89 did cost me a place on the Lions tour"


Aahh the irony - sounds like you haven't quite recovered yet Jeff
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Post by bedfordwelsh on Sun 10 Jul 2016, 7:40 am

asoreleftshoulder wrote:It's a fairly poor point,just because rugby was a serious hobby for him,that doesn't mean it's the same for the players now.It's a job,it's an extremely intense and probably fairly monotonous job in the day to day sense.Only an elite few get rich from it and the majority end up physically damaged from playing.
It's a bloody tough way to make a living.

Most of us experience that though.
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Post by LondonTiger on Sun 10 Jul 2016, 11:56 am

Most of us do not face the repetitive physical demands though. Probyn was a whiner back in the day, and has turned into one of the old gits he went on strike against back in 91.

In his day he would have training for an hour or so on Tuesday and Thursday, then play at the weekend - in a much less intensive match than nowadays as generally all friendlies.

If we want players to be at their best, or anywhere near, then their bodies need to have breaks.

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Post by doctor_grey on Sun 10 Jul 2016, 10:19 pm

LondonTiger wrote:Most of us do not face the repetitive physical demands though. Probyn was a whiner back in the day, and has turned into one of the old gits he went on strike against back in 91.

In his day he would have training for an hour or so on Tuesday and Thursday, then play at the weekend - in a much less intensive match than nowadays as generally all friendlies.

If we want players to be at their best, or anywhere near, then their bodies need to have breaks.
Agree completely. Good points. He also sounds like one of those old dudes sitting around telling people how much harder their lives were 'back in the day'. I used to walk to and from home from school two miles each way, uphill and through the snow. That kind of thing. He also sounds completely out of touch with the damands on a modern professional athlete.

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Post by Sin é on Mon 11 Jul 2016, 12:06 am

I think he has a point when he says this:

jeff probyn wrote:The international game finances the whole professional game with clubs heavily reliant on their respective unions (apart from France) for the funds to manage the game. Surely, it would make more sense to shorten the club season than reduce the number of international matches as they provide the money for the clubs to survive.

It is RPA’s primary job to ensure the welfare of all players and not just the high profile internationals who have better care than most anyway.

Only about 25 players in each country play international rugby regularly. And these teams get paid a huge sum by the RFU to manage their playing time so they are not over worked.

Then of course there are the match fees (which are much better than for club games).

The club game is getting ridiculous now. The Top 14 will start again about 20 August with teams like Racing and Toulon only having a 2 week preseason as it is mandatory that they get 1 month off and they didn't finish until the end of June and players not being able to tour with their country. I also see that toulon is playing in some 10s tournament in Australia!

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Post by Cyril on Mon 11 Jul 2016, 9:05 am

If we want to see fewer games, the international windows should be cut back, not the club season.

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Post by Big on Tue 12 Jul 2016, 1:24 pm

Some interesting insight there...

"If, for instance, the Premiership clubs were to do away with the play-offs that would enable the season to be shortened and the vast majority of professional players (which should be RPA’s first concern) would be able to take a longer summer break."

There was me thinking that as 8 out of 12 teams aren't in the playoffs, it would make absolutely no difference to the vast majority of players. Clearly I studied the wrong kind of maths. You know, the kind that actually looks for an accurate numerical solution, rather than comes up with any old number that is convenient for supporting my own (or indeed Jeff's) opinion.

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Post by nganboy on Thu 14 Jul 2016, 12:33 pm

I think the clubs should just carry on playing with out the international players when the internationals are on. That's what we do in NZ for the ITM cup
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Post by doctor_grey on Thu 14 Jul 2016, 1:13 pm

Super Rugby does break for Internatonals, mate.  The Premiersuip and Pro12 are more analogous to Super Rugby than the ITM.

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Post by Notch on Sun 17 Jul 2016, 8:34 pm

Big wrote:Some interesting insight there...

"If, for instance, the Premiership clubs were to do away with the play-offs that would enable the season to be shortened and the vast majority of professional players (which should be RPA’s first concern) would be able to take a longer summer break."

There was me thinking that as 8 out of 12 teams aren't in the playoffs, it would make absolutely no difference to the vast majority of players.  Clearly I studied the wrong kind of maths.  You know, the kind that actually looks for an accurate numerical solution, rather than comes up with any old number that is convenient for supporting my own (or indeed Jeff's) opinion.

Yes, but the most successful teams often have the highest percentage of internationals. 18 out of 32 players on England's summer tour from the Top 4 for instance. Also if those games were scrapped the internationals could be moved forward two weeks hence allowing all the internationals on the summer tour a longer summer break.
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