They call it the IRPA – International Rugby Players Association. The title of this article says it better.
The like of Rob Nichol in this country showed their true colours last year when they held NZ Cricket more or less to ransom in order to rake in maximum moulah for their members. This time they have learned the age-old lesson: “softly, softly, catchee monkey” after the bad publicity they got last time. But the aim is the same.
What we have is essentially a small group of people who have popped up out of bloody nowhere and, under the guise of “looking after players rights” have started to flex their muscles against the rugby administrators. Players have signed up for it of course, but one wonders at what they think of it all. Probably the average bloke does it because “it sounds like a good idea” without much thought on the wider ramifications. The end result is that the non-thinking mass puts a shitload of power into the hands of a small group with an agenda.
But is this a bad thing? Well, as with all power, it depends on how it is used, or abused. Proponents of the group and its actions would say they are looking after the players’ interests, and this can only be a good thing. I’d agree, to a point. Player welfare etc. are all good causes which need lobbying for. Sadly this isn’t the issue being focussed on.
Denigrate or laugh at the IRB and RWC Ltd. all you like, but it is an organisation which is dedicated to taking rugby to as many countries in the World as possible, and generally promoting the playing of it for all. Looking closer in, the individual country’s Unions do the same. Here in New Zealand there is a difficult balancing act going on from season to season, where they try to balance renumerating enough elite players with enough money to keep them playing here, against keeping the game alive at the grass roots – the NPC and the Clubs.
What does this IRPA want? Well basically, they want as much of the pie as possible for their members, without regard to any of the aims mentioned above. In short, their aim is to suck as much money away from “The Game” itself as possible, and to create an elite bunch of superstars. Does this sound like the NBA in America, where the very top echelon earn obscene amounts in the $millions? Well, that’s the track we’re on alright.
Arguments for the idea might make mention of the “fact” that the players are the agents effectively earning all this money, so they should have a share of it; that without the players, there wouldn’t be any money. This is double-think. Without World Rugby as it has been built up by the various administrative bodies and the interest at the grass roots, there would be no vehicle for players to make any money at all. They just want to cash in now that it’s all sitting there ready-made for them.
With the latest greedy attempt to grab money out of the Rugby World Cup pot, the IRPA are starting the campaign at the top. One of their oft-repeated refrains in this whining parade has been “They are out of step with modern global trends”.
Ignoring the basic error of suggesting something should be done just because it’s a “trend” (suicide bombings are a global trend, but are they a good idea? – I think not) this highlights what I totally reject from my own perspective as a rugby fan.
I do NOT wish to see the game become just like all the others. I find the idea of obscenely-renumerated superstars a disgusting prospect in all forms of endeavour, and don’t want to see it happen in rugby. Top players are already overpaid in my humble opinion, and it takes much that is admirable from the game in the process. More will result in less, in terms of the spirit and ethos of rugby, that’s a certainty.
So, although I vote labour and support the working man 100%, I also vehemently support the tenet of a fair days pay for a fair days work. People who manage to wangle $millions for running about on a paddock with a rubber ball tucked under the arm aren’t worth a damn of respect – look at soccer players.
Maybe we ought to start an equivalent organisation for supporters. IRSA could then threaten the IRB and IRPA alike that we’d all boycott the TV unless both organisations each donate $1,000 per player to charity.