English rugby rails against extended season: Who said what

Billy Vunipola's raised the issue of strike action before he suffered another long-term injury while playing for Saracens. Henry Browne/Getty Images

Premiership Rugby plans to extend the club season in England have been met with resistance by a host of senior players.

Under the proposals the Aviva Premiership season would be elongated to 10 months, running from September to June, once the new global calendar comes into effect in 2020.

The mid-year Tests would then take place in July, meaning that international players playing in England's top flight would face an 11-month season.

It is not surprising, therefore, that England captain Dylan Hartley has suggested that an extended season "is not welcome."

And Hartley is not the only player to air his concerns. ESPN rounds up who has said what on the issue.

Dylan Hartley (Northampton & England)

"I can't obviously speak for every player, but the general feeling is that an extended season is not welcome.

"Player welfare is paramount, both mental and physical. I don't know the answers, but I can see both sides.

"The season is relentless and there is always another big game around the corner. When you lose, you've got to move on pretty sharpish.

"The games come thick and fast and if you're an international player your focus shifts to that, then back to your club again. So the mental side of player welfare is so important."

Jim Mallinder (Northampton director of rugby)

Hartley's boss at Saints, Mallinder, also suggested an extended season could take a mental, as well as physical, toll on players.

"I understand the principle of the global season and aligning the northern and southern hemisphere in terms of tours and dates, but I think we need to be very, very careful.

"It's not just the physical load, it's the mental as well. Even if you have a week or so off in the season, it is not the same as stopping and not playing for a certain amount of time."

Joe Launchbury (Wasps & England)

"Every week is a massive game. To try to expand that and make the season longer with less rest period is hard to see from the players' points of view.

"You need that mental break and that's almost as important as having a physical break. You need that five week rest that the Rugby Players' Association fought extremely hard for the players to have."

Billy Vunipola (Saracens & England)

In an interview with the Times, Vunipola suggested that players could strike over the plans. He has also suggested he would accepted a pay cut in order to play fewer games.

He said: "Something is going to give. Something might happen where we follow the NFL or NBA, where they had a lock-out. I'm not saying I'm going to start it, but I feel like something needs to happen for the suits to realise these guys are serious.

"It comes down to how much we play. My body could not handle it. I might think I'm strong and tough but I'm not. I just got worn down.

"The suits are always talking about it but they have never played nine months in today's rugby. It's something I would love to change -- play less."

Vunipola's Saracens coach, Mark McCall, said on Wednesday: "My view is that longer isn't better."

Ben Youngs (Leicester & England)

Youngs backed up Vunipola's suggestion that strike action could be possible but stated his belief that "sense will come" before any action is necessary.

"If it comes to that, guys will stand up for what they feel is right to protect themselves. Guys have been outspoken about it but that's because they care about the length of their career.

"They don't want it four years shorter. They want to be able to finish on their terms -- they know their bodies. The salary cap has grown and with that more games are asked of us."

He added: "As players, the guys do have that power [to strike] but I don't think it's something any player wants to get to. It has been talked about but I am sure that sense will come."

Joe Marler (Harlequins & England)

Harlequins prop Marler told the Mail on Sunday that he would be open to joining a strike, if it came to that, saying: "Everyone wants their piece of the pie but there's only so much pie to go around.

"I don't want to sound like a wet flannel but I think the season is at its limit and it could do with some positive restructuring.

"If it was to extend, there has been talk between the boys about some sort of strike or other action and I would be inclined to join that."