The Rugby Players’ Association today announced Gloucester second row, Will James, as the new RPA Chairman. Will takes over from former Bath prop, David Barnes, who after six years as Chairman becomes a full-time employee of The RPA as Rugby Manager, having had to retire from the game last season due to a neck injury.
James will lead The RPA Management Board with Northampton Saint’s lock Christian Day being voted in as The RPA Vice-Chairman by the Player Representatives.
RPA CEO, Damian Hopley, said: “It’s great news that Will has been elected as Chairman of The RPA Management Board. He has a very hard act to follow in David Barnes who did such a tremendous job as RPA Chairman and is the ideal person to assume the role of Rugby Manager within The RPA. The RPA Board has every confidence that Will will be equally as successful, he is extremely popular among the players and is respected by everyone within the game for his all-round professionalism. I very much look forward to working closely with him to make sure the players’ voice continues to be heard on all issues.”
James spoke of his pride at having been elected as The RPA Chairman: “I’ve been the Gloucester Player Representative for three years now and I want to make a similar contribution to David Barnes, my predecessor, who has done a great job as Chairman up until this summer. It is a big role within The RPA and the game and a good opportunity for me to be able to give input into the work done by the Association. It’s an honour to have been elected RPA Chairman by my fellow Player Representatives.
“Our role as Player Representatives at the clubs includes relaying issues to our RPA Player Development Managers and working with them to initiate education programmes for life after rugby, voicing player welfare issues and ensuring all benefits are filtered down to the members. In my position as RPA Chairman I will look to lead The RPA forward in what is an exciting time for the club game in England.”
On his appointment as Vice-Chairman, Christian Day said: “I feel more senior this year having been on The RPA Management Board last year, so I felt comfortable stepping up and making my voice heard.
“Rugby has changed dramatically over the last ten years. It used to be guys who went through university and got grades there before coming into rugby. Now many guys come in straight from school and that’s the only qualification they will ever have. I think it is crucial that The RPA provides player support after their rugby career. Also, rugby is a tough sport physically and some guys have to retire due to injury, so The RPA plays a huge role in helping players through The RPA Benevolent Fund as well.”
The RPA Management Board is made up of Player Representatives from each of the 12 Aviva Premiership Clubs.*
Matters discussed at the recent RPA Board Meeting in Birmingham included results of a recently commissioned RPA Player Medical Survey, career-ending insurance and “Social Responsibility” in the wake of unwelcome headlines at the Rugby World Cup. Discussions were also initiated around social media and the opportunity of players setting their own guidelines for the sensible use of social media.
*Player representatives on The RPA Management Board this season are:
Bath – Sam Vesty, Exeter – Haydn Thomas, Gloucester – Will James, Harlequins – Olly Kohn, Leicester Tigers – Ben Woods, London Irish – Bob Casey, London Wasps – Ben Broster, Newcastle Falcons – Jeremy Manning, Northampton Saints – Christian Day, Sale Sharks – Sam Tuitupou, Saracens – Hugh Vyvyan, Worcester Warriors – Jake Abbott, Leeds Carnegie – Jonathan Pendlebury.