The International Federation is considering limiting the number of matches for international players in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, according to information from La Depeche.

l’essentiel World Rugby, l’instance mondiale du ballon ovale pense à instaurer un quota de match par saison pour les internationaux. Des discussions devraient se tenir prochainement.

This is a common theme in modern rugby. Besides the complicated schedules with overlapping matches, the issue of the relentless pace of games that players are subjected to often comes up, especially when key rugby figures end up getting injured. And it seems like the debate is about to be revived.

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According to our information, World Rugby, followed by the international players’ union (World Players), who have worked extensively on the issue of concussions, is considering establishing a limit on the playing time of international players during a season. The organization took advantage of the World Cup to revive this long-standing issue in international rugby.

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Discussions and consultations are expected to be launched soon (with the LNR being obviously involved), even though nothing is yet clear. Especially regarding the details of this framework, and it cannot be ruled out that the international federation will be subject to significant lobbying from the parties involved.

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The limit of 30 matches has been mentioned, which is already significant. Since joining Stade Toulousain in 2017, Antoine Dupont has only reached this number once (in the 2021-2022 season), while Romain Ntamack has surpassed it twice in the last five seasons (33 in 2018-2019, 32 in 2021-2022).

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The fact is therefore uncommon, which would have also raised the idea of ​​establishing a maximum playing time in minutes. However, this possibility still raises some questions. Even by participating for a few minutes, this method will not count the pre-match preparation time, the travel time… In other words, there are many data that may make the discussions unclear and disorganized.

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D’autant qu’une telle mesure pourrait bouleverser le fonctionnement des clubs, notamment français, qui vont avoir du mal à y donner un écho favorable. Faire moins jouer certains éléments reviendrait à en exposer d’autres (actuellement, les internationaux jouent souvent moins que leurs partenaires en club), et sans doute à une multiplication des contrats dans des effectifs déjà conséquents.

What about the clubs’ budget and the salary cap that should be revised upwards? Knowing that in France, under the current model, the clubs would be solely responsible for bearing the weight of the changes. Unlike other major rugby countries like England, Ireland, or New Zealand, where the national federation covers part of the players’ salaries.

In any case, if World Rugby’s measure is successful, it seems that it will not come into effect until the 2025-2026 season.

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