The world’s top players and World Rugby have furthered collaboration on some of the game’s biggest topics at the 2017 Rugby Athletes’ Commission (RAC) meeting in Monaco.

The RAC is a collaboration between World Rugby and the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) and is a priority under the renewed agreement between the two bodies which outlines joint commitment to ensure players remain at the heart of rugby decisions.

The 2017 Monaco meeting stimulated detailed and productive discussion relating to current RAC projects, while also considering the latest issues of importance to players:

  • Player welfare: consideration of the latest research; injury-prevention strategies and players’ perspective on the shape of the modern game and optimal player training load
  • Laws: consideration of the current global law trials, research and player feedback
  • Current RAC projects: Player agent accreditation, best-practice education, mental health and leadership in women’s rugby
  • Player movement: An exploratory discussion on player movement in the modern game, impact and implications for players and unions
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The attendance of World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, Vice-Chairman Agustín Pichot and Chief Executive Brett Gosper alongside RAC Chairman John Jeffrey underscored the importance of the meeting to the international federation.

In a further commitment to athlete communication and involvement, Pichot was instrumental in convening the leadership group - a combination of 15s captains and on-field leaders - to attend part of the meeting to provide further insight and feedback into player welfare and laws matters, with the group recommending that World Rugby and IRPA focus on examining player load trends in the training environment to enhance welfare and injury-prevention.

Jeffrey said: “The Rugby Athletes’ Commission plays an important role in ensuring that player opinions are prominent within World Rugby's decision-making processes and we enjoyed an open and productive meeting considering matters of importance to players.

“Without players, we have no game and this body is playing a significant role in advising and informing the Rugby Committee on matters relating to the playing of the game. The work of this group on priority areas such as player welfare, player load, mental health, laws feedback, player development and agent accreditation will ensure we can look to an exciting future of growth and prosperity with players at the centre of the journey.”

Beaumont added: “This meeting is of great importance to World Rugby as it considers and tackles the matters that are important to the players.

“The dialogue was open, productive and positive. It is clear we have superb on-field leaders in our game and their contribution off it is equally valued. I would like to thank everyone for their full contribution.”

Pichot added: “We were delighted to be able to convene a players’ leadership group to combine with the Rugby Athletes' Commssion for the first time. These are the captains and on-field leaders of international teams and their input and feedback on matters such as laws and player welfare is paramount for World Rugby to strengthen the decision-making process with player considerations at heart.”

IRPA CEO Omar Hassanein said: “The Rugby Athletes’ Commission is a great opportunity to garner to the genuine feedback of IRPA’s player members in an open and honest forum. The topics discussed are core to protecting players’ interests, whether it be in relation to key welfare issues or in protecting players in their contracting environment.

“This year’s meeting had some excellent outcomes, including a joint commitment to advance a working party around optimum player load. These outcomes were driven by experienced athletes in the sport, with most national captains involved, as well as key player advocates such as Jamie Heaslip, Conrad Smith, Akapusi Qera, DJ Forbes and Rachael Burford to name but a few. We look forward on taking the outcomes of this meeting and putting them into practice in the coming months.”