Rugby - RPA set up online free agent list

Rugby stars seeking new contracts can now promote themselves through a virtual shop window.

An online list of out-of-contract stars has been launched to help English-based players secure new deals in professional rugby.

The Rugby Players Association has set up the RPA Free Agent List, to detail which players' contracts expire at the end of the season.

Any RPA member whose contract is up for renewal will be able to upload their details to a secure server, that bosses at Aviva Premiership and Greene King IPA Championship clubs can access.

RPA chairman and Gloucester lock Will James said: "We believe this is yet another step in giving our members an enhanced opportunity to secure contracts for the coming season.

"Last year over 60 players did not have their contracts renewed for a variety of reasons, so we see this Free Agent List as a great shop window for clubs to approach players within the six-month window that started on January 1.

"This development has been well received by our members, so we hope this valuable service will be of significant use for all players who find themselves out of contract at the end of this season."

Premiership clubs are not allowed to approach rival sides' players until their contracts have six months or less left to run.

January 1 is the traditional tipping point for a host of transfer activity, if clubs have not tied down top stars or fringe players.

The RPA hope their new online list will help bring clarity to the recruitment process for players, not just clubs.

Rugby director David Barnes said the RPA felt the need to act to help players handle one of their biggest stresses, securing their future within the game.

He said in a press release: "In a recent survey of our members regarding their ongoing wellbeing, one of the biggest spikes in players' anxieties across the season is the insecurity surrounding the timing of a new contract offer.

"We have recently seen a trend of clubs re-signing their players earlier in the season to counter this concern, and we believe that this new service, available only to RPA members, will also encourage clubs to move earlier to re-sign players in demand, or risk those players becoming available on the open market."