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November 13, 2018

Scotland's pro-players get organised

Posted by Editor on November 13, 2018 02:12 PM | No comments | Print | E-mail author

Tim Swinson has been appointed chairman of the new union
Scotland's pro-rugby players have come together to form the country's first-ever players' union.

Following a ballot that produced unanimous support from pro-players in the country, and with input from Scottish internationals playing in England and France, the creation of Rugby Players Scotland ends the anomaly of Scotland being the only leading rugby-playing nation without a body to represent players' interests.

Tim Swinson, the Glasgow lock, has been appointed chairman of the union. An interim chief executive is in place and incorporation papers have been lodged at Companies House.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Swinson said: "We are the last Tier One nation not to have an association. We feel the players have not had their views voiced as well as they could have been."

Speaking on the Rugby Sportsound Podcast, Swinson outlined incidents - such as a bonus row at Glasgow in 2016-17 and the handling of Scotland international John Hardie's suspension - that convinced him a players union in Scotland is a necessity.

Warriors players believed their employers moved the goalposts in relation to financial bonuses they were due if they secured European qualification.

Swinson says there was "a bit of disquiet" and describes it as "a frustrating time" during which they had up to 10 meetings with Glasgow managing director Nathan Bombrys.

"We were promised a certain amount if we got into Europe," Swinson said. "We got into the [Champions Cup] quarter-finals for the first time and a week later we were told that amount would be reduced.

"It got to the point we had to hand in a letter to our line manager explaining we wanted to go to a tribunal. It never got to a tribunal and, to be fair, the SRU resolved it and there are no hard feelings.

"It's the only year in the last seven that Glasgow haven't made the [PRO12/PRO14] play-offs, which may just be coincidence, but the feeling within the squad was quite aggravated towards the SRU at times.

"I think they felt the SRU were trying to do one over us. We disagreed that they had done it in the right manner. We believed we were right and it turns out we were."

A statement for Scottish Rugby said they "welcome" the plans and are "very happy" to meet with Rugby Players Scotland to learn how they can "work together going forward".

It added: "We have never resisted any attempt to form an association in Scotland and have had regular meetings with the International Rugby Players Association over the past 18 months as part of a continuing dialogue around player welfare."