Hopley worried by PI retirements

Date published: May 8 2015

World Rugby need to act to ensure the best players participate at the World Cup according to RPA chief Damian Hopley.

Dan Leo this week revealed to Planet Rugby that a number of Pacific island players are being offered more money by clubs if they retire from international rugby.

Leo mentioned the case of Census Johnston, who called time on his Test career just months ahead of the World Cup, before signing a new contract with Toulouse.

And Hopley is concerned that the absence of some of the top Samoan players could undermine the World Cup as a tournament.

"It’s a huge injustice that we can’t see the best players representing their countries at the World Cup,” Hopley told the Guardian

"World Cups are all about seeing the best play against the best. If you’ve got players being incentivised to retire from international rugby it goes against the grain of what a World Cup should be about.

"Players are being put in an invidious position. They’re not receiving any significant fees from Tier Two nations and, as a result, it’s almost a no-brainer. 

"This will be the best organised and profitable World Cup there’s ever been but if a second-string Samoan team are playing it will leave a very nasty taste. It’s hugely frustrating that a solution cannot be found.

"World Rugby is fully aware of what’s going on. But how can a player turn whistleblower against his own employer who is seeking to stop him playing international rugby? He’d be blowing both his feet off with a bazooka. 

"A World Cup is going to generate in excess of £150m profit but it can’t see fit to ensure that all the best players are available for their countries. It would be a drop in the ocean."