Premiership Rugby gets it’s thinking Cap on; ‘Player Drain’ to blame?

England’s early World Cup exit comes at a difficult time for English rugby union.


An increasing number of players are being lured away to France’s Top 14 league, where the salary cap is significantly higher than that of the Premiership rugby clubs’. To combat this, Premiership Rugby has put in place a programme for steadily raising the salary cap from the current £5 million a year to £7 million in the 2017/18 season.

Part of their reasoning for this is to ‘drive the next phase of growth in English club and international rugby’. England are one of only two international teams (the other being New Zealand) who don’t allow players who play in other countries to play for the national team. This is a controversial topic within the sport. On the one hand, keeping the top players in England with the promise of international rugby will protect the quality of the Premiership and give the RFU better access to English players. On the other, deliberately not selecting world-class players such as Toulon’s Steffon Armitage was one of the hottest of topics as England struggled to compete at the breakdown with Messers Pocock and Hooper. With the average playing professional playing career being just eight years many potential England squad members will look to make as much money as they can in the French league during what is becoming an increasingly short career.

England’s failure at this World Cup, making them the first team in history to go out in the group stages as hosts, has piled even more pressure on Premiership Rugby to close the gap on the French salary cap of £8.6 million. The new four year deal with BT Sport, worth over £280 million, makes this increasingly likely.

It isn’t an issue that is just limited to the Premiership. As discussed in my previous Choix blog, the Pacific nations have lost a large proportion of players to lucrative contracts in France. In Wales, fly-half Rhys Priestland recently announced an 18-month break from international rugby in order to play in England. This could potentially bring to an end his international career and leave Wales lacking in depth for the pivotal fly-half position.

Taulupe Faletau looked all set to move from Welsh side Newport Gwent Dragons to Premiership club Bath but this was blocked by the Welsh Rugby Union (“WRU”) and head coach Warren Gatland. Wales currently allow two ‘wildcard’ players, which are those who play their rugby outside of Wales. However, the WRU stated that ‘Taulupe’s status as a player and importance as a role model means we would like him to be playing his rugby here’. This is an interesting contrast to the players from the Pacific nations, who are often effectively encouraged to retire from international rugby with the financial incentives from the clubs far outweighing the pride of playing for their nation (and the diminutive financial rewards that the Pacific nations can barely afford).

With the next Rugby World Cup in Japan four years away it is hard to predict how the Clubs versus Country conflict will pan out over the coming seasons. It would not surprise many if players took a sabbatical from the international scene and plied their trade for a couple of seasons overseas and then returned to their respective countries in the build up to Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup.

If you need any advice on any sports related matters please do not hesitate to contact the Choix team.

Andy Boyde – Sports Consultant



The Choix team would like to thank Brett Hinchliffe for his contribution to this blog. Brett is part of the Career Ready programme at Notre Dame. This is a national programme that prepares young people for the world of work. The focus for Notre Dame, is for students interested in pursuing a career in Law.

Stamford Bridge over troubled waters; Chelsea FC’s Employment law blues

Jose Mourinho is once again the talk of the back pages, but this time it’s for all the wrong reasons.

andy_boyde john_hendrie

The self-proclaimed ‘special one’ may have landed the Blues in a crisis after a series of highly publicised events that he has been at the centre of. Following last night’s exit from the League Cup at the hands of Stoke City many pundits are speculating that time is ticking for the Chelsea manager despite the fact that he is penned to a lucrative contract at the Blues until 2019.

Mourinho has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association (“F.A.”) in relation to his behaviour and language used in last weekend’s defeat to West Ham United.


This latest outburst comes in the wake of a £50,000 fine just weeks earlier when Mourinho said that referees were ‘afraid’ to award his team penalties. The latest fine being the seventh time in 10 years that Mourinho has come into conflict with the F.A. with those punishments totalling £181,000:

  • 28 January, 2015 – £25,000: Mourinho fined for comments that there was a ‘campaign’ to influence referees’ decisions against his Chelsea side.
  • 8 May, 2014 – £10,000: Mourinho was fined for comments after Chelsea lost against Sunderland on 19 April. He ‘congratulated’ referee Mike Dean after Chelsea’s defeat.
  • 10 April, 2014 – £8,000: Mourinho was sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa. He was dismissed after walking on to the pitch to speak to referee Chris Foy after Ramires was red-carded.
  • 24 October, 2013 – £8,000: Mourinho was fined for “improper conduct” in his side’s Premier League match against Cardiff. He was ordered from the technical area by referee Anthony Taylor after protesting about apparent time-wasting.
  • 10 August, 2005 – £75,000 (reduced from £200,000): Mourinho was fined over his role in the ‘tapping-up’ of Arsenal defender Ashley Cole.
  • 9 June, 2005 – £5,000: Mourinho was charged for comments made after the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United. Mourinho was unhappy that Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to referee Neale Barry as the teams left the pitch at half-time.

The ‘Sexist One’???

Perhaps the incident that made the most headlines and caused the most controversy was his open criticism of the club’s first team doctor, Eva Carneiro, followed by her ban from being involved in training or match days.

Eva Carneiro and head physiotherapist Jon Fearn were slammed by Mourinho earlier this season for entering the pitch to treat Eden Hazard, who then had to be temporarily sidelined in accordance with the match rules. This left Chelsea with just 9 men on the pitch after Thibault Courtois’ earlier dismissal.  They were labelled ‘compulsive and naive’, as well as being described as needing to ‘understand the game’. On top of this, the FA is investigating claims that Mourinho made sexist and abusive comments towards Carneiro.

Legal Issues

The Premier League can often exist in a legal bubble where employment issues are concerned. The media attention on this incident would potentially assist Carneiro to pursue compensation, and in particular a case of constructive unfair dismissal. Carneiro could argue a breach of an implied term of trust and confidence. Carneiro could be awarded up to the £78,335 cap in an Employment tribunal for a claim of constructive unfair dismissal.

What could make the issue even more serious for Chelsea is the potential case for sex discrimination which would enable Carneiro to claim an uncapped amount of compensation.

If you have any legal issues please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Choix team.

Andy Boyde and John Hendrie – Sport Consultants



Court shows ultimate red card

Pub players be aware and watch your tackle, as Footballer jailed for intentionally breaking opponent’s leg.


Football is known for being a physical, contact sport and injuries are common place however, many who regularly turn out for their Sunday league teams will have been astounded by the case of a player, Nathaniel Kerr, being jailed for one year as a result of a violent tackle. The general issues of the case are similar to the case some five years ago of Mark Chapman vs. Terry Johnson, where Chapman was convicted for Grievous Bodily Harm and jailed for six months.

A knock about with the lads is an opportunity to have some fun and a chance to demonstrate competitive spirit, but in the case of Nathaniel Kerr vs. Stuart Pearson this clearly went too far. Sunday league player Kerr was recently convicted for deliberately stamping on the leg of Stuart Pearson, breaking it in several places. PC Louise Spence of Greater Manchester Police said the arrest and prosecution showed ‘aggression and thuggery’ during sporting fixtures would not be tolerated.

This opens the issue of who really was responsible, the club or the player, where the line begins and ends and whose responsibility it is to ensure that players are aware of the potential repercussions of their actions.

Jim Pearson, ex professional footballer and Choix Consultant, thinks that a bad tackle can often be just bad judgement, but on occasion it can be intentional. “It’s easier in the professional game to make a judgement when there are 100,000 fans watching in the stadium, millions of viewers at home, referees and linesmen, plus capabilities to show footage at slow speeds. However, in Sunday league if there is a sporting injury, you can only rely on the players, a few spectators and a (sometimes unqualified) referee.”

It used to be thought that what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but this case highlights that players’ actions can be scrutinised by the courts and that they are not above the law. Clubs need to stand up and take responsibility for their players, especially at lower level, to make sure they are covered for injury and are aware of the repercussions of their own actions. This case has highlighted the issue of how many are uneducated as to how they are accountable for their own actions and the severity of the Kerr case being brought before the criminal courts has shocked many.

Criminal proceedings are generally reserved for serious situations and so the law is more commonly involved in civil claims where an action is brought by one player against another for negligence. This normally supports a claim for compensation for the injury and loss of earnings – something which in the professional game would not be an issue thanks to the expert guidance and legal support provided to clubs and players in today’s game.

Whilst clubs themselves have historically been held responsible for the actions of their players, there is no doubt that a player can be held accountable for his or her own actions and so should not rest on their laurels. A poorly judged or intentional tackle can and will land them into more serious trouble than merely a yellow card!

Legally, the rules of the game do not govern the duties owed between the participants.  If the participant transgresses those rules then he will ultimately face not only his professional sporting body but may find himself at the end of a civil case or in the extreme, as we have seen in the Kerr and Chapman cases, a criminal prosecution.

When it comes to cases such as these, it is very much depends on the type of sport and other factors including the nature of the act, the degree of force, the extent of the risk of injury and the state of the mind of the Defendant. Was it an instinctive reaction, error or misjudgement in the heat of the moment or was it wilful, reckless and with malicious intent? What is clearly evident from this case is that now it is time for sporting bodies, clubs and organisations to make compulsory third party insurance mandatory, or at the very least, have in place – no fault compensation schemes.

Jim Pearson knows more than anyone the impact an injury can have on your livelihood. He experienced this first hand when he was forced to retire from injury at the age of 26, leaving both his career and life off the pitch affected.

Initially, Jim had very little legal support, minimal insurance and was left on his own to deal with the consequences before his team stepped up and have been financially responsible for the implications of the career ending injury ever since.

Ex Leeds United professional John Hendrie, also a Choix Consultant strongly believes that Personal Injury is so much more important in a non-professional game, because unlike Jim, non-professionals are not automatically covered by their clubs. “Professional footballers are trained athletes whereas many Sunday league players can be unfit and even intoxicated or hung-over, when playing football. This can decrease focus and increase the chance of injury. We would like to believe that players can continue to participate in their interests, without fear of suffering consequences for what may be an unintentional and over enthusiastic act or tackle, however, we seem to be moving towards a blame culture where people are quick to sue or prosecute, and so everyone needs to be aware of the legal implications of their actions. This particular case will only exacerbate the situation.”

There is a fine line between professional sport and its nonprofessional counterpart but when players engage they need to understand that they become in part, responsible for their own actions. Whilst referees and spectators are likely to be judging moves and play, any malicious or dangerous act which causes injury to another may also be judged by the state; and as was the case with Nathaniel Kerr – the ultimate penalty could be imposed in the form of a custodial sentence which no Insurance Policy or Insurance Scheme would protect the participant from.

For advice and guidance on sports related injuries, Third Party Insurance, sports disputes or other sports related matters speak to the Choix Team.

Jim Pearson and John Hendrie – Sports Consultants





Madeline Perry – back from Borneo!

madeline_perryHello Everyone!

A few months ago many people were kind enough to sponsor me and support me to carry out some charity work as a project manager in Borneo with Raleigh International. I thought it would be interesting for my sponsors to have some feedback on the trip and I have put together the following blog.

I announced my retirement from professional squash at the Irish Open at the end of April. Having had a tough year I was ready to start a new career and move on from my life as a professional squash player. I had some ideas about what I would like to do next, quite possibly in coaching, but I felt it would be a good time to head off and do something different, completely away from the world of squash, and charity work sounded very appealing.

I chose to become a volunteer for a charity called Raleigh International which is both a sustainable development charity and a personal development charity. I would be a project manager looking after young volunteers aged between 17-24 and would undertake three different projects, all allocated by Raleigh. The projects were designed to support the construction of infrastructure and building projects to improve the management and sustainability of the isolated villages and rainforests. They would also benefit the many young volunteers from all parts of the globe.

So, on the 4th June off I went to Borneo, extremely excited for what I hoped would be a highly rewarding trip. I wasn’t entirely sure what I would be doing and what my role would entail but I knew that whatever it was I would, as usual, throw myself into it and make the most of my time there.

The first couple of weeks were mainly intensive training, some of which I found pretty tiring, after all, I hadn’t really used my brain properly for about 17 years when I last attended University! It all started to get a little easier and a one night mini trek into the jungle gave me more of a taste of things to come. Sleeping in a hammock tied between trees, with a tarp as a roof and a mosquito net to protect me from everything was certainly different to my normal sleeping conditions!
For all those who have travelled with me over the years, I’m pretty well known for my sleeping issues – no air con, curtains closed, ear plugs etc., so this in itself was a huge challenge for me!

The young venturers then arrived from various parts of the UK and around the world and after some training and acclimatising we could start the hard work many of us had come to do.

First phase for me (which was 3 weeks) was an environmental project at the Jurassic Park like Imbak Canyon where we were involved with the construction of a suspension bridge to connect secondary rainforest with primary rainforest. The bridge would allow scientists to access and study the rainforest and help this area become a world heritage site and therefore give this amazing forest greater protection. I enjoyed the tough physical work here. As well as carrying construction materials we also hand mixed cement and to fill one of the holes for the bridge foundations. We did this for 3 weeks but every minute of it was fun and rewarding.

My second phase was trek, which was 18 days of jungle trekking with 10 young venturers and 3 guides. Many would think that trek would be a “walk in the park” for me due to my physical background but I had never done any more than long walks and most certainly had not spent time sleeping in hammocks and making fires. It did however turn out to be a truly memorable time, using my toughness and positivity to really encourage the young venturers into achieving something many thought was beyond their capabilities. The trek was of immense value to the venturers in helping them gain, or in some cases regain, their self confidence, their ability to work as a team and their mental and physical stamina. They overcame challenging conditions, sore feet, tired legs and a lot of bites and stings even including an attack by some killer bees.
It rained torrentially for 18 days on and off but all added to the fun and really was one of best experience of my life especially hearing and seeing how utterly proud all of the venturers were of their achievement. I had never imagined such repetitive days and simple living would make everyone so happy.

Third phase was again an environmental project in a place called Danum Valley, another stunningly beautiful location and another suspension bridge to give scientists access to primary rainforest. This time we were digging a very large hole and carrying sand from the river ready for the next Raleigh group to start cementing. It was slow and challenging work but everyone knew exactly why we were doing it and the sight of so much interesting and unusual wildlife only encouraged the venturers to work even harder. It was also clear to us how the local community and rangers greatly appreciated the work that we were doing. In fact the rangers in Danum Valley, they even pointed out how much they appreciated all of the work we volunteers were doing not only in Danum Valley but at all of the various projects across Sabah.

The work was now finished and it was time to reflect on the twelve week journey.

I arrived in June with the skills I had as a squash player and hoped that I could utilise my main attributes of hard work, determination and positivity to somehow inspire young people to believe in what they could achieve.

Raleigh teaches people how to be open, how to relax, how to be tolerant, how to be genuinely happy all by living just a very basic life. The lack of technology and phone signal was extremely refreshing and certainly made everyone realise that it really does not need to be such a big part of my life! The lack of distractions created more time to genuinely talk and really get to know people thus gaining a closeness not normally reached in such a short space of time.

After so many years of competing and performing for myself I was finally in a situation where I could help others to succeed and be happy within themselves. This brought me a great sense of fulfillment.
I have achieved many successes over the years but nothing quite gave me the same sense of pride that I felt leaving Borneo. I really hope I was able to have some impact not only in Sabah but on the lives of the young venturers with whom I shared the jungle space.

It really was an unbelievable experience in a beautiful country. I was touched by the warmth of the Sabahan people, in particular our jungle guides who not only guided us through the jungle but touched our hearts with their kindness and happiness.

So, now, what next? There is no doubt squash will be a big part of my life as I guess that’s what I do best but I now feel ready to delve into a world with more confidence. The skills I gained as a professional squash player not only allowed me to be a good athlete but also gave me the ability to motivate and support others. I demonstrated to myself that not only can I work successfully as an individual but also as both leader and part of a team.

The world awaits!!