There is power in a union and rugby league players are no exception to any other group of workers that they can further their rights collectively much better than if they stood alone. The trouble is, that theory falls apart when people don't stand alongside each other; multiple bodies allow those that would exploit the chance to divide and rule. With this in mind, there are some legitimate concerns over the motives and rationale underpinning the new union - as chronicled in less serious tones here previously - called 1eague3. We come not to criticise, but in an attempt to explore why the founders of this new organisation have done what they've done and where they intend going with it. Indeed, were there not already a union existing, we'd be all for this new one. However there is - the Rugby League Players Association run under the auspices of the GMB - hence the concerns.
Here are the five things we'd like 1eague3 to answer, the better to understand.
1. What is wrong with the current arrangement with the GMB's Rugby League Players Association to prompt this move?
The only possible reason for setting up your own union would be dissatisfaction with existing arrangements. What was the source of this dissatisfaction? Was it raised with the existing union officials and, if so, what were the outcomes of those discussions? What is it that you can do that the GMB currently cannot or will not? How are the aims of 1eague3 different and where are the GMB currently failing to support those same ideals?
2. Was there an approach to the Rugby League Players Association to get players overseeing the existing union?
The major point raised by the originators of this union is that by having players representing themselves, they come into line with other sports. This could have been raised within the existing framework, perhaps along the same lines as the PFA by having a shop steward at each club reporting directly to the executive or by any number of mechanisms. Was this explored? If so, what were the outcomes of those discussions and why were they unpalatable?
3. Why only Super League players?
Other unions for sports players, let's stick with the PFA as the logical and high-profile example, cover all professionals within that sport. Why is 1eague3 restricted to only the top flight? What rights do Super League players think are theirs which do not extend down rugby league's pyramid? Why do the voices of professionals lower down the tree count for less than those at the top? What happens to a member of the union should he drop down the divisions? Was any of this discussed when the idea for 1eague3 came about?
4. By what criteria were the chairman and management committee selected?
There's no doubt that chairman Jon Wilkin and committee members Jamie Peacock and Lee Briers know rugby league, but what else qualifies them to represent their fellow professionals? Was there an election, or perhaps a thorough search for candidates and an interview-based selection process? How was the chief executive selected, which companies were employed to conduct the search and what fees were paid by the organisation? What is the chief executive's salary? Who are the non-executive directors and, again, how were they recruited?
5. The Rugby League Players Association has publicly stated it's concerns over one-eague-three. How do the committee respond?
There are legitimate - on the face of it - concerns expressed by the GMB over the ability of one-eague-three to achieve it's aims. What is the financial state of 1eague3, the back-up and structures that the GMB claim aren't there? How confident can potential members be before leaving the RLPA and joining the new organisation?
We maintain that one-eague-three is a silly name (League13 my backside), but that's a minor point. The above points are the important ones. It's not an exhaustive list, there are probably other questions we'd want answering before coughing up our subs, but the above would be a good starting point.