Pound Notes Threaten Our game

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You can say that again!  It seems that the dole queue depicted in the picture is gradually winding it’s way into rugby  –  and not just in the upper echelons of the game either!

The rules of the Rugby Football Union clearly designate what is a payment to a player and what is not.  Also defined, is a “contract” for playing.

It is quite clear, no contract, no money.  Don’t believe that though!

However, the reality is quite a different matter.  If the RFU think they have developing financial problems with their Premier League outfits, then they perhaps ought to broaden their horizons and look deeper into the abyss that is the game outside the National Leagues.

Substantial and illegal payments have been made to many players up and down the land for many a long season; even here in Cumbria there is no immunity from the cancer that does no more than gradually destroy the fabric of the game.  If the rumour mill is right, there are some lads taking home more for a game of rugby than income some families can hope to achieve after a week of hard work. Committee men around and about will deny, convincingly in some cases, but otherwise unconvincingly on the majority of occasions, that they do not pay players.  What they forget though is, that the players talk among themselves, some openly admitting that they are handsomely remunerated for their services.  Team morale eventually falls victim to the creeping paralysis, with a majority of players getting “nowt” for their enjoyment of the game.  Eventually the truth dawns and they realise that they are being taken for the proverbial ride by some who have no interest in a club other than to take cash out of it; and when the cash dries up of they go elsewhere.

There is (allegedly)  a developing scenario at a once prominent Yorkshire club. Each player in the team on a Saturday could expect in excess of three hundred quid. Sadly for them, the money appears to have dried up.  No pay since Christmas,  and with morale going down the pan, some of them have migrated back to from whence they came. The team captain was asked by his colleagues to make representations to a senior committee man.  That senior committee man (reported to be the treasurer) claimed not know that they been getting paid anyway, retorting to the skipper that the back row hadn’t been operating too well lately either!  Impasse or farce!

Don’t believe it when you hear that there are no paid players in Cumbria.  Of course there are, but is highly unlikely that they will be on a contract.

Sport (including rugby) is principally for recreation and enjoyment, but with the introduction of leagues the mantra is now one of “win at all costs” and that has changed the face of the game from one that many of us remember.

Clubs are right to be ambitious, but many have lost their way in life, making payments that, in the long term are not sustainable and may ultimately lead to great embarassment, and to a state of affairs from which it may not be possible to recover former glories and respect (if indeed they had any in the first place).

We can all quote examples, but at the same time hope that such history will not repeat itself!

(This article is the view of an individual contributor and not necessarily that of the Club).