Gosper optimistic about future growth of rugby

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That's the view of World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper when reflecting on 25 years of professionalism in rugby.


And over the next 25 years, Gosper believes rugby will become a simpler, and safer, sport.


He made the comments for a BBC radio programme reflecting on the quarter-century since rugby went professional in the wake of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.


Gosper said the first years of the next quarter-century would be leaner times as a result of Covid-19, but he was confident in the game's future.


"In 1995 it was stuttered and disorganised [in transformation], like many things when freed up from regulation," he said.


"There is a lot more coherence and understanding of the sport and its fan base than there was in those days. There is a collective will to do great things for the sport in terms of growing it.


"Coming from where we have come from – seeing the interest it engenders whether in the World Cup arena or the Olympics arena – this sport only has one direction to go, so you can only be optimistic," he said.


It was only natural to feel that they could have moved faster, especially in developing new markets, but that was being attended to now.


"Geographic and gender growth is hugely important for the future, and we are trying to get that right," he said.

Gosper said while the sport had become increasingly physical there was more understanding of injuries than previously, and having players more involved in the decision-making had contributed to that.


"It's a physical game, but we believe it is safer now than it has ever been, despite the number of collisions which have increased dramatically.


"It is a safer game because we understand the dangers better than we did in recent years. The head injury protocols have protected so many players we didn't know were perhaps being harmed in the past.


"There is much more protection off the ball as well as on the ball, and I think there is a lot more of an evidence-based approach, and testing of laws, to ensure the players are as protected as they possibly can be.


"I think the game will be simpler and safer. I think that will be the evolution.


"Our job is to make it a spectacle, but in the best possible way, as safe as possible for the players, at the elite level and the community level," he said.


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