England's Vunipola warns tired players could strike

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:22
Large billy vunipola shoulder injury 800

NEWS: England's Billy Vunipola has warned that players could go on strike if rugby bosses fail to reduce the number of matches played over the gruelling season.

In an interview with The Times on Friday, the Saracens No.8, who missed the recent British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand through injury, said governing bodies did not appear to understand the punishing schedule's impact on players.

"Everyone complains that they keep pushing the salary cap up but we need more players," he said. "It's not about money, it's about the toil we're put through."

Vunipola, 24, said Saracens looked after him well but added that strike action by players might be the only way to force Premiership executives to address the problem.

"Something is going to give," he said. "Something might happen where we follow the NFL or NBA, where they had a lockout. I'm not saying I'm going to start it, but I feel like something needs to happen for the suits to realise these guys are serious.

"It comes down to how much we play," he said. "My body could not handle it. I might think I'm strong and tough but I'm not. I just got worn down. The suits are always talking about it but they have never played nine months in today's rugby. It's something I would love to change - play less."

Top players can be involved in a dozen international matches as well as potentially 30 or more club fixtures over the course of a season.

With only one match played a week, that can mean very little respite for players usually starting their season in early September and not finishing until the end of the June tests in the Southern Hemisphere.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 19h35 Rodney Parade
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 17 12 0 5 61
Wasps 17 11 1 5 54
Saracens 17 11 0 6 53
Newcastle Falcons 17 11 0 6 50
Leicester Tigers 17 10 0 7 47
Gloucester 17 9 1 7 46
Bath 17 9 0 8 45
Sale Sharks 17 8 0 9 43
Harlequins 17 7 0 10 36
Northampton Saints 17 6 0 11 31
Worcester Warriors 17 5 0 12 27
London Irish 17 2 0 15 15