Premiership: Courtney Lawes urges rugby’s bigwigs to step up and save the sport in England
England star Courtney Lawes has called on rugby’s governing bodies to show their worth and actually do something about the financial issues engulfing the game.
Worcester Warriors and Wasps have already been axed from the Premiership this season after going into administration, reducing it to an 11-team league.
London Irish could follow them after it emerged that players and staff had not been paid April’s wages.
Although the prospective American owners have attempted to allay any concerns, consistently assuring the squad that the money will be transferred over, it still shows the perilous position English clubs find themselves in.
Most are operating at a loss, reliant on rich backers to keep them afloat, and Lawes insists that something needs to be done to turn that around.
Once the fastest growing sport
“It’s just so disappointing how we got here,” he told reporters. “About five years ago we were probably the fastest growing sport in the country.
“We have to get some people in who understand how we’re going to make this game a proper business, so that it continues to grow and the players are financially compensated for what they’re doing to themselves.
“And so the fans are getting what they pay for, too, in terms of the quality of the game. Hopefully the people who are paid to do this stuff can make it work.”
As a result of the financial problems in the Premiership, and the greater money on offer elsewhere, several players have left the league for overseas clubs.
It means that they have put their England careers on hold, and in some cases ended their hopes of playing international rugby ever again, but Premiership sides simply can’t match the Top 14 outfits fiscally.
“Players should be able to go and make money but at the same time we want the Prem to be strong,” Lawes said. “If most of our best players are leaving that’s not going to be the case.
“There has to be a solution made here in England. The RFU and Premiership Rugby have to come together and find out how we’re going to make this work. All avenues should be explored.
“Not just for the players, the RFU and the Premiership – but for everyone. At the minute it feels like no-one’s on the same page.”
New Northampton deal for Lawes
Lawes is one of those who will stick around after signing a new contract with Northampton Saints recently.
It was announced on the same day that Manu Tuilagi agreed a one-year extension with Sale Sharks, a deal which went against expectations.
Tuilagi was widely anticipated to move abroad, to either Japan or France, following the Rugby World Cup, but the centre has decided to stick around.
And Lawes stated that his own decision to remain in England was not necessarily borne out of loyalty to the Saints, where he has played professional rugby at for the past 16 years.
“I wouldn’t have stayed in England this whole time if it was not lucrative for me as well,” he added.
“It’s a finite career and it’s important you do look after yourself. There’s absolutely no loyalty in terms of clubs. You have to do what’s best for you.”
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