NZ Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol told Radio Sport Breakfast that the law change came as a surprise, the details ‘buried’ in the latest agreement.
“It came apparently through the participation agreement that the teams signed. But it was buried. We certainly weren’t across it. New Zealand Rugby, I don’t think were across it and the players haven’t been consulted or involved in the decision, from our perspective anyway,” said Nichol.
“We’re just trying to unpack it a bit and work with World Rugby and try and address it.”
“I think the whole process that’s been around it has been poor,” he said. “It hasn’t gone out for consultation and that’s a big problem. It makes the game and themselves look a bit stupid.”
The move was made to align World Rugby with the International Olympic Committee’s rules where no slogans, symbols or messages are permitted.
A spokesman for World Rugby’s told Stuff.co.nz a common-sense approach had been accepted by all participating teams and the ban covered the world sevens circuit and the Rugby World Cup.
“There has been a significant increase in strapping ‘art’ or ‘messages’ on the series in recent seasons, which is impossible to police for inappropriate or political statements by the match officials in the short period of time before entering the field in a sevens environment across multiple matches and in multiple languages,” the statement said.
Nichol also expressed dismay at the potential for $1,000 fines for players who fail to comply.
“Even the concept of a fine. World Rugby doesn’t have the power to fine our players, so it’s comical . . . it’s a joke. The whole thing has just been really poorly done.”