Reflecting the international federation’s commitment to open engagement with all stakeholders, the key forum provides for the first time a formal environment for the world’s leading competitions and leagues to directly contribute to decisions at a global level and builds on recent constructive global calendar meetings.
The regular forum hopes to establish a stronger bond between World Rugby, national unions, elite leagues and the players, and will be particularly impactful in the advancement of strategies to further player welfare, define an optimal annual rugby calendar and opportunities of mutual interest.
Chair of the Committee, World Rugby Vice-Chairman Bernard Laporte said: “Rugby is a team sport where the team is only as successful as the sum of its parts. This important forum is designed to strengthen team rugby, to understand how we can better collaborate to achieve excellent results for everyone in the game. It reflects our ambition to engage, listen and act and I am excited about its clear potential.”
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “The elite club game, like the test arena, is vital to the sustainable future development of the sport in a sporting, entertainment and business sense. Forums like these, with productive and positive dialogue, does not simply strengthen relationships, it reflects a common goal of making the sport all it can be for our family, especially the players who transition between the club and country environments on a regular basis. We have had good discussions in this debut forum. There is plenty to consider, momentum and a strong will to work together collaboratively. I would like to thank everyone for their commitment and contributions.”
United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi said: “Over the past 18 months the dialogue between all of the professional leagues has increased and now we really welcome World Rugby’s role in bringing all of our key stakeholders together. We hope that in addition to the exchange of ideas for developing the sport on and off the pitch, that the Professional Leagues Advisory Committee can achieve tangible success for the betterment of rugby in the years to come.”
Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) CEO Emmanuel Eschalier added: “This international collaboration will allow us to move forward in a coordinated way to grow rugby and include the interests of all stakeholders. The key areas of player welfare and calendar management require a global and coordinated approach and the creation of this committee, which structurally involve the professional leagues into World Rugby’s governance, will make a significant contribution to these objectives.”
Premiership Rugby Rugby Director Phil Winstanley said: “The professional leagues are an integral part of the sport of rugby union driving huge global profile and commercial success complementing the International game. It is crucial that the stakeholders work together, on an equal footing for the good of the game, and focus on the structure and future and the growth of the sport and the creation of the Professional Leagues Advisory Committee is the first step in this direction. Collaboration within rugby and unity from stakeholders will be the key to future success.”
SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris said: “SANZAAR applauds World Rugby for its leadership and holistic approach that is now driving the search for collaborative decisions on the issues that face the sport and welcomes the opportunity to be part of this new professional rugby forum. SANZAAR is fully committed to working with other key stakeholder groups including players associations, national unions and the 6 Nations as we seek workable and credible solutions for future club and international playing windows and player welfare issues.”
Superliga Americana de Rugby Chairman Sebastián Piñeyrúa said: “We need to work together to change the way rugby is managing its competitions and hopefully this committee can support that process, and we are more than happy to be part of that effort. We need to ensure players are available for international rugby in a calendar aligned with club competitions, whilst continuing to work for player welfare. As a working group, we must also work towards the concept of global rugby, allowing common growth, open new markets and amplify content for the interest of existing and new fans.”
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) interim CEO, Anthony Lepage, said: “The spirit of collaboration inherent in an advisory committee such as this is vital for the future development of the professional club game in Europe and worldwide. EPCR is confident that ongoing dialogue between the key stakeholders can only lead to improvements in the pressing issues of player welfare and calendar co-ordination.”
The group will meet regularly to discuss and align on the sport’s biggest topics as well as deeper separate dialogue on key work streams such as the calendar and player welfare.