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Rob Andrew backs player strike to save 'rugby union model worldwide'

Rob Andrew has suggested that industrial action could help resolve the current tension over player welfare. Tom Shaw/Getty Images for BMW

Rob Andrew, the Rugby Football Union's former director of professional rugby, believes tension over player welfare could be resolved with industrial action.

Plans to extend the Aviva Premiership season to 10 months have prompted a number of high profile England stars, including Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs and Joe Marler, to come out in favour of a potential strike.

Andrew says that, in England and France, the battle between clubs and their unions for total control of the game was "lost by both sides a good while ago."

Instead, he suggests in his book "The Game of My Life: Battling for England in the Professional Era" that the three stakeholders -- clubs, players and unions -- must now find a compromise.

In a section from the book published in the Telegraph, Andrew wrote: "I am not one of life's natural revolutionaries, even though I loved my time on the barricades at Newcastle, but there is a part of me that wonders if the situation can possibly be resolved without some form of industrial action from the workers who provide the entertainment.

"Indeed, I do not believe we are watching a fight for total power any longer: in English and French terms, that battle was lost by both sides a good while ago.

"Where rugby finds itself now is in the early stages of a conflict over the nature of the compromise -- a scrap for viability. Without compromise, the rugby union model worldwide will be under threat."

While at the RFU, Andrew played a key role in brokering the current Professional Game agreement between the governing body and Premiership Rugby that includes welfare provision for England's Elite Player Squad (EPS).

"It's really hard to find the answer because you've got to turn the dial down, and it's hard to do that when we've moved to where we've moved to," Andrew told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"But something has to be done to just try to ease, you can't be playing a sport where you're half expecting to be injured and half expecting to be taken off to hospital with a serious injury."