London Irish players demand proof of medical insurance cover to fulfil Exeter clash amid unpaid wages

Demands: London Irish captain Matt Rogerson  (Getty Images)
Demands: London Irish captain Matt Rogerson (Getty Images)

London Irish’s players have called for proof of medical insurance cover to be able to fulfil Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash with Exeter.

Captain Matt Rogerson revealed the Exiles squad have asked for “tangible evidence” of insurance cover, with staff still yet to be paid April’s wages.

Irish’s prospective new US owners covered March’s payroll, but similar moves for this month are thought to have fallen through administrative cracks.

Former Premiership Rugby chief executive Howard Thomas is helping to broker the club sale and representing the potential new club bosses.

Thomas has reassured Irish players and staff in several meetings this week that the missing payments will be settled quickly, and Irish’s players hope to receive their salaries before Saturday’s Exeter clash.

While Irish’s players might yet go ahead with the game without payment, the squad will not take any risks over insurance.

“We have asked for tangible evidence that medical insurance is in place,” said Rogerson. “We want to see a physical version or copy so that it is something that we can rely on.

“So far we have had verbal reassurance from the club that it is in place, but the next step for us is to have that reaffirmed with physical evidence.

“I’m also quietly confident that information should get out to us hopefully over the next 24, 48 hours, which will give us the confidence to go and play the game knowing that’s in place.

“We have a very physical game where the risk of injury and ailment is pretty high. So I think the basic underpinning right that every player has in the game we play is that the structures are in place to take care of us if things go wrong.”

Irish’s players will continue holding meetings with the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA), as well as club chiefs and Premiership Rugby representatives.

Premiership Rugby and the RFU are both prepared to put the squeeze on Irish to settle the financial shortfall without delay, to keep the club’s prospective sale moving forward.

Irish’s players and staff should have been paid on Friday, and the longer the delays go on, the greater the concern grows.

The Exiles players and staff have prepared for Saturday’s Exeter clash in expectation of the match going ahead, with all training sessions completed in full.

Rogerson admitted however that he could not talk for the whole squad on the idea of Irish fulfilling the fixture should wages still not have been paid by kick-off.

“It’s not a question I can answer at the moment because it will be on the basis of what the whole group feels,” said Rogerson.

“For me, I’m not at liberty to give the opinions of what every other player thinks. We’re working towards the fact that hopefully we will be paid before the game and that is the mindset that we’re in at the moment.”

Representatives for Irish’s prospective owners have told club staff that they hope to complete the missing payments in the coming days, with the delays attributed to banking issues. Irish’s takeover has been due for a July completion, with current owner Mick Crossan hopeful of handing over the reins to put the club on a secure future footing.

Rugby director Declan Kidney insisted the club has full insurance in place for Saturday’s Exeter clash.

“Payday was last Friday and we have not received payment yet, players and staff,” said Kidney. “But we have been given a lot of assurances from the prospective new ownership that that will happen over the coming days.

“We have been working towards the game going ahead. All insurances are paid up to date, and we are looking forward to the game going ahead on Saturday.”