SA rugby organisation joins global player rights movement

2017-12-19 11:17
MyPlayers managing director Eugene Henning (Photo supplied by MyPlayers)

Cape Town - MyPlayers - the organisation for all South African professional rugby players - signed on to join the Universal Declaration of Player Rights in Washington, USA last week.

The global player rights declaration was organised by the World Players Association, which brings together 85 000 players across professional sport through more than 100 player associations in over 60 countries.

Major player associations belonging to World Players include:

• FIFPro, the world football players’ union
• the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA)
• the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA)
• the European Elite Athletes’ Association (EU Athletes)
• the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)
• the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA)
• the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA)
• the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA)
• the Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA)

MyPlayers - as a member of IRPA - was represented by its managing director Eugene Henning in the American capital. He believes this declaration is a big breakthrough for the management of professional sportsmen and women across various codes around the world.

“The importance of player rights management has grown tremendously in recent years. Athletes - across many sporting codes - realise that they need the support that our player organisations provide to ensure they are taken care of on and off the field. Not only during their sporting careers, but post retirement too,” said Henning.

“This declaration will allow all organisations to formulate universal policies and ideas that will improve our services to players, which will see us offer more value and have a greater influence when it comes to player welfare.”

MyPlayers is 100% owned by the professional players in South Africa. The likes of Springbok loose forwards Oupa Mohoje and Siya Kolisi, and Blitzbok veteran Kyle Brown sit on the board, while the likes of Springbok captain Warren Whiteley, Bulls hooker Adriaan Strauss and former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok are included among the trustees.

Springbok and Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth was appointed the SARPA president in 2016, taking over from Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who made a move to French club Montpellier. The organisation assists players in various fields - from contract insurance cover when they get injured to legal assistance when they get cited to retirement financial planning to prepare for life after rugby.

Player career development is also an important field, which includes bursary opportunities. MyPlayers funded study programmes for 37 players in 2017.

Henning believes that the Universal Declaration of Player Rights will improve their service to the professional rugby players in South Africa.

“We’re very happy with our growth in recent years and improved service to our members. But there’s always room for improvement,” said Henning. “South African rugby is going through an interesting phase, especially with two franchises competing in the Pro14 and the possibility of two more franchises entering inter-continental competitions in the near future. We need to monitor these developments and ensure all professional rugby players are well managed on and off the field.

“The Universal Declaration of Player Rights will allow us to learn from our international partners and from different sporting codes and trends. And hopefully, we can offer the same value to them through our current internal systems. This is a big move in the right direction for professional sport.”

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