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(ISN) – The world’s top male and female players have participated in the inaugural Rugby Athletes’ Commission (RAC) meeting on Sunday, kicking off a busy program of key meetings around the 2014 World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London.

The commission is a partnership between the IRB and the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) and will provide a formal and more structured forum through which players can have their views channeled into Rugby’s decision-making processes.

Chaired by IRB Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey, the RAC focus is to identify and discuss issues facing the Game, to make observations and recommendations, and to assist in better informing the IRB and IRPA in the pursuit of their respective objectives and initiatives. With Rugby enjoying rapid global growth, the commission will advise the IRB Rugby Committee in key areas including player welfare and laws of the game.

The structure of the RAC includes elite players representing IRPA. These nominees are representative of the high performance and professional levels of the game and have the mandate and confidence of the players having been elected by their respective national players’ associations.

The representatives are: Victor Vito, Benjamin Kayser and Andrew Trimble (Men’s Fifteens); Kyle Brown and Lee Williams (Men’s Sevens) and Rachael Burford and Lynne Cantwell (Women’s). The Commission will be supported by IRB and IRPA executive staff and relevant Council and Committee members as required.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The establishment of our first-ever Rugby Athletes’ Commission is a significant step forward for the sport and underscores the IRB’s commitment to ensure that players are at the heart of the world Rugby decision-making process.”

“This important body will provide a closer link between the IRB committees and elite men’s and women’s players, informing and advising the IRB on all matters relating to the playing of the game. I would like to thank IRPA, the players and our Unions for their commitment to this process.”

IRPA Chief Executive Rob Nichol said: “The establishment of the Commission is a welcome step in bringing players closer to the decision making process as well as recognizing their position as stakeholders at the center of the game. The eight players are empowered by our membership to ensure that the core welfare areas in the game are represented and the RAC gives the players the opportunity to shape the future of the game.”

Rugby Athletes’ Commission Representative and All Black Victor Vito said: “I am delighted to represent IRPA members on the RAC, it’s a very significant development for player advocacy and ensures that we, the players, can have our views and opinions heard. This is a huge step forwards for the Game and the continued welfare of all players in world Rugby.”

The Rugby Athletes’ Commission meeting sits within a busy program of meetings around the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London on Monday and Tuesday. Other meetings include, the Growing the Game Conference, the IRB Medical Commission Conference and Player Load meeting and the World Rugby Council and Executive Committee meetings.

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