Former rugby chief Rob Andrew has joined the growing band of voices to suggest industrial action may be the solution to ongoing tensions in the English game over player welfare brought about by plans for an elongated domestic season.
Proposals to extend the Premiership season by a month, which would see the campaign stretched to 10 months in total, from the 2019-20 campaign have been met with opposition from a number of high-profile players.
England stars Billy Vunipola, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, Ben Youngs and Joe Marler have all spoken in favour of a potential strike in a bid to derail the plan.
“Something will give and eventually if the players decide not to turn out, then there isn’t much of a product,” said Andrew, who was director of professional rugby with governing body the Rugby Football Union from 2011 until 2016.
“We’re trying to fit too much in with the same players being asked to repeat over and over again in a very demanding sport. I think the players will have a big say over the next 12 to 18 months to try to find this holy grail.”
Part of the argument in favour of a lengthened season is a reduction in the overlap between international and domestic matches so clubs have greater access to their better players.
Exeter chairman Tony Rowe insisted earlier this month that an extended campaign would in fact aid player welfare and produce a more “balanced out” season.