Rugby - widely renowned as the most gentlemanly way in which to inflict brain injuries on other human beings - will soon face an existential crisis. The demands on modern players are increasingly unfeasible: the players who joined up with the Lions for a ten-match tour of New Zealand did so at the end of an exhausting season which featured a domestic season, the European competitions, Autumn internationals, and the Six Nations.
Top-level rugby players are now expected to follow a footballer's schedule with NFL-style shunts and abrasion.
England's back-row wrecking ball Billy Vuniploa has endured as much pain as he has dished out of late, and missed the Lions tour through injury. He suffered from a shoulder injury that had plagued him since November of last year, and ultimately did not have time to fully recover.
Speaking to the Times, Vuniploa says that he couldn't handle playing so regularly with Saracens and England last year, and issued a stark warning to those who run the game.
He said that the season needs to be shortened to a single round of the Premiership (11 games), and told journalist Rick Broadbent that, should the "suits" continue to ignore player welfare, players may be forced to take drastic action:
Something is going to give. Something might happen where we follow the NFL or NBA, where they had a lockout. I’m not saying I’m going to start it, but I feel like something needs to happen for the suits to realise these guys are serious.
It comes down to how much we play. My body could not handle it. I might think I’m strong and tough but I’m not. I just got worn down. The suits are always talking about it but they have never played nine months in today’s rugby. It’s something I would love to change — play less.
The full interview is well worth a go: it's over on the Times' website.