New players’ union in talks to remove controversial clause from contracts in 2018

The relaunched players’ union fronted by former Great Britain forward Garreth Carvell have revealed they are in discussions with the RFL about potentially changing the clause which allows clubs to tear up a players’ contract upon relegation from Super League.

Carvell is at the forefront of the new-look Rugby League Players Association, which is working in unison with GMB to give players at all levels of the professional game a voice.

He admits the response from players has been outstanding, and says one of their key priorities is trying to ensure that clubs simply cannot leave players without a club following relegation via the Qualifiers again, otherwise known as ‘Clause 2.4’.

Carvell told League Express: “We’re working on it now.

“There’s been a bit of an uproar about it following the relegations of Hull KR and Leigh in 2016 and 2017 and that’s when that clause comes into play.

“It’s not fair. I was involved in the game with Hull KR and Salford and to see that devastation is heart-wrenching. It’s not a nice way for players to be treated.”

Pete Davies, who is helping Carvell and works for GMB, added: “We’re putting Clause 2.4 in front of our lawyers now. Once that clause is invoked and these players have their contract terminated, it makes a mockery of the contract system and things like the parachute payment.

“You’ve got to be a big, robust organisation to get things like that changed and we’ve got the resources to do that in the courts if we have to.”

Carvell, who has held talks with Australian players’ union chief Clint Newton too, also admits that the union will be open for players of all clubs – not just full-time professionals.

“The plan is to see all 38 clubs before the middle of February,” he said. “That’ll be difficult but I’m fully committed to this. Whether you’re on £200,000 a year or £200 a game, you’ll be treated the same. It’s only fair that everyone gets a voice and a seat at the table.”

Carvell plans for a self-elected representative from every club to be present at regular meetings, while Davies says that they will have full backing and support from the RFL should they have sufficient interest from the players – something he insists will not be an issue.

Davies said: “They want to see we’ve got the numbers and got the support and we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t. By the time we have our fourth meeting with them in the next fortnight we’ll have those numbers. If we get those numbers, they’ll support us with formal recognition.”

Carvell added: “The players want an input now. I met a part-time player last week who’s arm has been in pot for eight weeks; he can’t work and he’s on a pay-as-you-play contract so he’s not getting money from his club. He’s had to move back in with his mum. That shouldn’t be happening – we need to look after our players. Hopefully this is the start of doing that.”