Revealed: The secret text message sent to players after controversial NRL crackdown
The Rugby League Players’ Association sent its players a text message encouraging them to voice their concerns over rule changes publicly after the high shot crackdown in Magic Round.
An unprecedented 14 players were sent to the sin bin and three were sent off in a record weekend for the NRL, with a number of players now facing lengthy bans after the weekend of carnage.
The Sydney Morning Herald obtained a copy of the text message, which encouraged players to use media and social media to voice their concerns about the crackdown on high tackles, the latest in a string of rule changes that have been introduced while rarely consulting the players.
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The message was sent just 24 hours before RLPA boss Clint Newton met with NRL chiefs Andrew Abdo and Peter V’landys on Tuesday, where the NRL agreed to consult with senior players this week.
However the NRL was unaware of the text message until after the meeting with Newton.
“We’ve consulted with your Player Advisory Group over the weekend to gather their collective feedback on the impact of increased fatigue, lack of consultation, sin-bin edict for head and neck contact, 6 again rule and the rule change process,” a message from the RLPA sent to the players on Monday said.
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“We plan to put this feedback to Peter [V’landys] tomorrow (Tuesday) and seek assurances moving forward. We understand your frustrations and we’ve expressed our concerns numerous times since the new rules were first introduced and we’ll continue to push for inclusion in the current and future decision making process.
“In the mean time, we encourage you to express your honest thoughts and feelings about the changes and lack of consultation with the media should you be questioned or via social media should you be comfortable. Each voice makes an impact.”
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Newton denied the message was meant to be deceitful or undermine the NRL over their position on the crackdown.
“I think we’ve seen the opposite from players around it,” Newton said.
“The understanding of what happened has been really good. The initial impact on the weekend was a bit of confusion and frustration, but everyone, once the air gets taken out of it, understands.
“We’ve been very vocal in that. We’re supportive. There are improvements requested and something we’re looking forward to working on and something they’ve committed to, which is a good step moving forward.”
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Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has been a vocal critic of the NRL in the past and questioned the NRL’s handling of the rule changes without consulting players.
“It’s the ability of them being able to move so quickly on things, it’s left the players guessing,” Cherry-Evans said.
“We are not looking to run the game. We are players. We know that. I know I’m just a player in the game but I am just hoping that, because we are such a big part of the product, maybe they want to hear about how we think the game can improve.”
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However the rule changes were made by the NRL over the off-season were made in consultation with the innovations committee, which includes Souths hooker Damien Cook, Roosters’ halfback Luke Keary and coaches Craig Bellamy and Ricky Stuart.
After their meeting with the RLPA on Tuesday, the NRL agreed to meet with the players next week and reinforced that the players’ safety and welfare was paramount in the future of the game.
“Today’s meeting was really productive,” Newton said.
“We put forward the concerns and queries the players had towards Peter and Andrew. They took on board and understood how players the players felt.
“They’ve committed to a strategy moving forward to ensure players feel part of some of the decision making. We have a good strategy in player engagement going forward.”
Originally published asRevealed: The secret text message sent to players after controversial NRL crackdown
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