The Rugby Players’ Association has warned the game limit for England’s elite player squad members is too high and top-flight players face risks to their long-term health unless everyone in rugby union puts welfare first.

The Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby will shortly announce the details of the new heads of agreement, which governs the management of the elite player squad (EPS), and the limit will remain at 32, the figure set when the agreement was first struck in 2008.


Christian Day, the Northampton lock and RPA chairman, despairs that no more sophisticated device to regulate workload will be enshrined in the new deal. “That number is completely arbitrary in our eyes,” he said. “Someone’s stuck a finger in the air and come up with it. I don’t know where it’s come from, and I don’t think anyone does, beyond the fact that you play 22 Premiership games and then Europe, and you arrive at roughly 32. It happens to be just about the most number of games you could play, realistically.”

No player has ever been stopped because of the limit, although several have played more than 32 games, including Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown in the 2013-14 season. Dan Cole played in 41 matches during the British & Irish Lions season of 2013 but even then the Leicester prop did not exceed the cap on playing time, because it is calculated by minutes on the field rather than number of games and his total was 324 minutes shy of the 32 x 80 mark.

Read more on the Guardian.