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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
IRB to debate players' welfare
England's second string beat Argentina this year after the top players were rested
England had success with a second string in Argentina
Rugby union's world governing body is to discuss the issue of player burn-out.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) will discuss the growing problem for the first time at a specially-arranged conference in September.

The IRB's own medical committee recommended in April that action was needed in order to preserve the international game.

IRB chairman Vernon Pugh QC
Pugh says nothing is as important as players

"Nothing is more important to the future of the professional game than the health, welfare and security of our players," said IRB chairman Vernon Pugh, who will head the conference.

"There is little doubt that rugby has matured significantly as a sport during the professional era, and we need to ensure that procedures are in place to review the increasing pressures upon players."

England already limit their appearances in any one season to 32 games for club and country.

Coach Clive Woodward allowed his British Lions stars a summer break and took a second string squad on a short tour of Argentina.

The IRB also intends to discuss the proposed showpiece between the northern and southern hemispheres at the conference, which will involve players, administrators and medical experts, on 9 and 10 September.

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