Could Super League players go on strike? The RFL have their say

Aaron Bower
Franklin Pele sending off

Liam Moore sends Hull FC's Franklin Pele off during their Round 1 derby against Hull KR

The Rugby Football League’s Robert Hicks has insisted that the governing body are ‘not complacent’ about averting the prospect of strike action among Super League players: but insisted he held a constructive meeting on Wednesday which gives him confidence the game can move forwards.

Suggestions players have been discussing the possibility of going on strike has emerged of late, following a high-profile reaction to the changes in tackle laws in the early weeks of the new Super League season. That specifically revolves around the punishment for contact with the head: with matters reaching a new boiling point last week with Nu Brown’s controversial red card.

Hicks held a meeting with senior players from all Super League clubs on Wednesday to try and understand the frustrations of those in the centre of the action. Speaking to the media on Thursday, he declined to comment specifically about whether he thought a strike would now be avoided, but insisted he was hopeful of a clearer path for all parties in the weeks ahead.

“We should be clear that we’re not complacent about that not happening,” Hicks said when asked if he felt the game could avoid a player strike.

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“I don’t think it’s a surprise that people are talking about it, but I thought the meeting was positive and that the players articulated themselves fantastically well.

“It didn’t just cover head-on-head contact; it covered a wide range of things. What the governing body, the RLPA, Rugby League Cares and the players all agreed on was that the players are a massive part of the decision-making process going forward and that they have representation.

“I’m not complacent about that – but I thought it was a really positive and constructive meeting.”

The prospect of a strike would be hugely controversial, and would effectively mean the players are going on strike against their employers: which in this case, is their clubs, not the RFL. They would also likely need the support of the existing players union, the Rugby League Players Association, to make it happen.

With talk about the prospect of a new players union to give the players a clearer voice, Hicks admitted the RFL want to make sure the stars of the sport feel as though their voices are being heard. “That’s for you to ask players,” Hicks told Love Rugby League. “From the RFL’s view, we want a properly engaged playing group that feel like they are represented in the decisions that impact the sport. Without the players we aren’t able to do anything.

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