The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) today announced a new multi-year funding deal with its industry stakeholders, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby.
The new five-year deal will deliver a minimum of £7m into the RPA welfare, personal development and education programmes that supports the 650 current and over 350 former RPA members.
RPA Group CEO, Damian Hopley, commented: “This long-term funding deal gives us the security to build on the very strong foundations that we have established over the last 17 years as one of the most progressive Players’ Associations in Europe.
“One of the key objectives of English rugby is to provide outstanding welfare, support and development programmes to all of our past, present and future members in order to give them the best opportunity to maximise their on and off field potential.
“By working closely with the RFU and the Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, we are confident that we will take this support to unprecedented levels.
“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to the RFU and Premiership Rugby as well as my Board and the members for their continued support of the essential work we conduct for the players and the game.”
RPA Chairman and Premiership lock Christian Day said: “This is a landmark day for the RPA and the Players’ Board are genuinely excited about the future of English Rugby.
“This agreement is a huge step forward for our members and it will act as a cornerstone for the RPA's work in the years to come.
“We have also negotiated an enhanced Standard Contract that will provide greater protection and security at a time when scrutiny is, quite rightly, being focused on player welfare.
“We as players know that player welfare must be a huge priority for our sport. We will be working closely with all of the game's stakeholders to see what more can be done to continually improve conditions for the health and safety of our members.”
Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby, said: “Continued investment by the clubs in all aspects of welfare for their players is fundamental to the long-term strength and vibrancy of the English professional game.
“We've worked closely with the RPA over many years to develop the support programmes which are now an increasingly key factor for professional players in England.
“We welcome the new agreement which will allow all parties to continue to develop these over the next few years.”
RFU Professional Rugby Director, Rob Andrew, said: “Support for existing and former players is paramount and we are delighted that this deal has been achieved.
“Player welfare in all its forms, be it safety, health, education or preparing for life after rugby, is a priority for everyone in the game and we are confident that this agreement will help the RPA continue to deliver and enhance their programmes.”