England rugby union international Ellis Genge has confirmed that he has plans to set up a new players union for the sport.
Genge believes that it is time to “shake up the rugby scene” following the various measures that have been put in place as a result of the ongoing health emergency.
The aim of the new body will be to provide top level rugby union players with better legal and commercial advice.
The Leicester Tigers prop has insisted that the new body would be independently funded. This is to protect it from claims of a conflict of interest.
It would therefore receive no funding at all from the game’s governing body in England, the Rugby Football Union.
The England loose head prop outlined his ideas in a recent episode of the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
Current body too close to RFU
England’s top rugby union players are currently represented by the Rugby Players Association (RPA), a bdy which was first established in 1998.
That organisation receives funding from both the RFU and Premiership Rugby (PRL), however, something that Genge feels compromises its independence, and therefore its ability to represent the interests of players properly.
But the 25-year-old Tigers man has also been at pains to insist that the new body is not going to run in opposition to the RPA.
“It is just so people can get really good advice from trusted professionals in those specific fields: [for example] around commercial and legal [issues],” said Genge.
The recent health emergency has brought issues around player wages and welfare to the fore in the last few weeks.
RPA liaison officer Christian Day recently complained to the Rugby Union Weekly podcast that the different ways that Premiership clubs were dealing with issues around pay and the health crisis had created an “absolute mess.”
He was also insistent that there should have been more dialogue with players from the start of the health emergency.
While Hopley said that the players had been given plenty of advice and support, he also acknowledged that things could have been handled differently in some ways.
Genge, along with his club team-mate Greg Bateman, took legal advice after the Leicester hierarchy requested that the players take a 25% pay cut, before all the players were placed on furlough.
That led to a stand-off with the directors at the Tigers, although the situation has subsequently been resolved.
Genge: It is time to shake things up
He does, however, feel that his actions were correct, given the complexities of the current situation and how it relates to players’ contracts.
Genge has begun negotiations with private groups about funding the new union.
He is also hopeful that the players will be able to provide some funding of their own.
The 25-year-old feels that the RPA will always “lean in” with the RFU and PRL when it comes to negotiations.
He said: “But I do think it is time to shake up the rugby scene, and look after players – commercially, and in every aspect – a lot better.”