Another View: Fair play for rugby amateurs

Related Topics
At the time of writing I have not seen the programme Fair Game, which was shown on Channel 4 last night. I understand that in it Will Carling, the England captain, calls for an end to amateurism in rugby union and says: "If the game is run properly as a professional game, you don't need 57 old farts running rugby." My reaction to this, if correct,is disbelief and disappointment.

I can only assume the programme was made some time ago as it certainly does not reflect the current situation, but that does not excuse collective abuse if reports are correct.

At a meeting last Friday, the new executive, recommended by the Bishop Commission, was elected. This has nearer 15 members than 57. It has executive powers and will run the Rugby Football Union without constantly having to refer to the "57". At the same meeting, the RFU committee accepted that the national squad did not wish to become contracted professionals but there should be a partnership between the RFU and the national squad in respect of the squad's commercial activities.

A small working party with members drawn from the RFU committee, the team management and the national squad, chaired by Malcolm Phillips, a past England player, has produced and agreed a proposal to generate increased reward for the players. We were anxious that this was in place before the World Cup - hence my disappointment at Fair Game's timing.

I don't know where the figures quoted were taken from, but our revenue account and balance sheet are published annually and sent to every club and international player. All monies are ploughed back into the game and our youth development programme is the envy of many sports. I cannot believe the comment, if true, attributed to Rob Andrew, the England outside- half: "It is probably the only multi-million-pound business that does not pay its employees." I didn't realise we had any - apart from administrative and ground staff.

I agree it is very difficult to defend amateurism in the modern game, but I still firmly believe it is a sport for people in full-time occupations or, if you like, who have other jobs. None of us would like the game dominated by commercial forces, which could dictate terms and conditions. We would lose control to the detriment of all players and clubs alike.

Why is it that on most, in fact on virtually all, television programmes involving rugby union, only one side of the equation is put out. We have enjoyed great success in the past decade, and the players and management have played major roles - but they have been given a sound base on which to work.

There is a deep feeling of goodwill in this country for rugby, built up by many people over a long period with time given freely. We ignore that at our peril.

Old age has a habit of catching up with everyone. Let's have a little respect, boys.

The writer is vice-president of the Rugby Football Union.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
With an eye for strategy: Stephen Fry’s General Melchett and Rowan Atkinson’s Edmund Blackadder  

What Cameron really needs is to turn this into a khaki election

Matthew Norman
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own