Players unhappy with fixture list

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The Independent Online

It has taken them 11 years but at last it looks as if England's professional rugby players, all 545 of them, are finally ready to demand a say in their well-being and destiny.

Today, the Professional Rugby Players' Association is to make public a survey conducted between January and March this year, well before the fixture schedule for the 2006-07 season had been finalised. Reports suggest that it will reveal a widespread discontent among the Premiership players, most of whom believe that the domestic season is too long and poorly structured.

Their concerns will not have been eased this coming season by the Rugby Football Union organising an additional, money-spinning, fourth England international against New Zealand on 5 November.

Also, the tour to South Africa next summer has been brought forward to accommodate plans for the 2007 World Cup, and that means the Premiership season has had to be squeezed, necessitating four games in 16 days over Christmas and the new year.

The survey, which will strengthen the PRPA's call for inclusion on the boards of all the decision-making bodies in the English game, also reveals that the players feel that injuries are more severe now due to the modern game's intensity.

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