Operational Rules

Section E6: Welfare Policy


1.1          Vision

1.2          Policy Statement


3              STRATEGY & MONITORING

3.1          Player Welfare & Education Forum

3.2          Right to Investigate Concerns

4              COMMUNICATION

4.1          Communication from the RFL

4.2          Internal Communication within Clubs

4.3          Club Communication with Players

5              STAFFING

5.1          Player Welfare Manager (PWM)

5.2          PWM Qualifications

5.3          Head of Youth

5.4          Chaplain

5.5          Club Medical Staff

5.6          Club Coaching Staff

5.7          Club Welfare Officer

5.8          HR Department


6.1          Working Practices

6.2          Confidentiality – General

6.3          Confidentiality – RFL Player Welfare Software

6.4          Ethical Framework

6.5          Best Practice

6.6          Equality & Diversity

6.7          Safeguarding

6.8          Bullying & Exclusion

6.9          Whistleblowing

6.10        Communication General

6.11        RFL Player Welfare Software & Record Keeping

6.12        Research


7.1          Club Welfare Group – Formal

7.2          Club Welfare Groups – Informal

7.3          Lines of Responsibility & Reporting

7.4          Reporting Mechanisms

7.5          PWM Meetings

7.6          Mandatory Workshops

7.7          Other Workshops

8              THE PLAYER – PERSONAL

8.1          Club Player Induction Programme

8.2          Next of Kin

8.3          Families & Partners

8.4          Private Lives

8.5          Relocation


9.1          Training

9.2          Counselling & Rehabilitation Service

9.3          Training & Workshops

9.4          Social & Prescription Drug Policy

9.5          UKAD Violations

9.6          Disciplinary Proceedings & Dismissals

9.7          Club Cultures

9.8          Injured Players

9.9          Independent Social Worker

9.10        RFL Benevolent Fund (Try Assist)

9.11        RL Cares – Hardship Grants/Loans

9.12        League 13

9.13        GMB – RLPA


10.1        Anti-Doping

10.2        Social & Prescription Drugs

10.3        Alcohol

10.4        Gambling

10.5        Integrity in Sports Gambling

10.6        Social Media

10.7        Media Training

10.8        Presentation & Public Speaking Training

11            FINANCE

11.1        Financial Providers

11.2        Financial Education

11.3        Financial Advice

11.4        Financial Health Checks

11.5        Debt Management

11.6        Central Insurances

11.7        Income Protection Insurance

11.8        Pensions

11.9        Private Medical Schemes

11.10      Financial Difficulties

12            CONTRACTUAL

12.1        Standard Players Contract & Registrations

12.2        Club Rules

12.3        Agents

12.4        League 13

12.5        GMB – RLPA

12.6        RFL Independent Tribunal

13            CAREERS

13.1        Career Readiness

13.2        Career Coaches

13.3        PDPs

13.4        CV Writing & Building

13.5        Job Search & Interview Techniques

13.6        Networking

14            TRAINING & EDUCATION

14.1        Time for Education &/or Training

14.2        Prior Educational Attainment

14.3        Functional Skills

14.4        RL Cares Grants

14.5        Salary Cap & Grants

14.6        RFL Centrally Organised Courses

14.7        RL Learning

14.8        Education Ambassadors

14.9        Education Mentors & Study Groups

15            WORK EXPERIENCE

15.1        RFL Work Experience Scheme

15.2        Club Work Experience

16            TRANSITION

16.1        Informing Players

16.2        Transition Programme

16.3        Transition Meetings

16.4        Transition Players

16.5        RFL & Retiring Players

16.6        Player Exit Interview

16.7        Additional Measures

17            ACADEMY AGE GROUPS


18         APPENDICES





To deliver the best Player Welfare and Education programme in British sport.


Policy Statement

The RFL and full time clubs recognise that players are central to the game and that their welfare must be a paramount concern of the game.

The RFL and the clubs will work together to deliver this mandatory Player Welfare Policy to ensure that Player Welfare is consistent across clubs and that all clubs operate to the Player Welfare Standards. The Policy and Standards will be supported by a Player Welfare Strategy and Action Plan.
It is also agreed that Rugby League should endeavour to achieve the highest standards in British professional sport and be of the same standard as the NRL Player Welfare delivery.

The Player Welfare Policy will educate and support players from the moment they enter the professional game throughout their playing career and in at least the first two years after they transition out of a playing role within the game.

The aim of the Policy is to ensure that Rugby League players:

a) Can play to the best of their abilities unhampered by off field concerns;
b) Are proud advocates of rugby league and act as good role models and spokesmen for the sport;
c) Understand the responsibilities of life in the public spotlight as professional sportsmen;
d) Have good life skills, show respect to all and make wise and ethical decisions;
e) Develop mental resilience and understand mental health and addiction;
f) Take responsibility for and invest in their personal development;
g) Plan and prepare for their career after their playing career to enable a smooth and immediate transition;
h) Engage with the educational and networking opportunities available to them during their career;
i) Are better men for their involvement in rugby league;
j) Are prepared to manage change;
k) Are able to support themselves financially and emotionally when they transition out of the sport.




This Welfare Policy and Standards are binding on clubs[1] (and all club staff) that have any full time players however the standard and requirements for clubs outside Super League can apply for dispensation which will be set by the Welfare Director on a club by club basis. Clubs without any full time players are bound by the part time Player Welfare Policy and Standards.

Clubs will treat their players with courtesy and respect.

Clubs will conduct player contract negotiations, terminations, non-renewals and other issues arising from contracts with propriety, fairly and reasonably.

The RFL will ensure that Player Welfare is considered in reaching all relevant decisions across a broad spectrum of policies and undertakes not to pass policies or rules which undermine player welfare.

Player welfare cuts across a number of policies both centrally and at club level, clubs will comply with other policies which impact on Player Welfare such as Medical Standards etc. The RFL and Super League will take player welfare into consideration when reaching decisions in any policy area which has an impact on players. Players will also be consulted on policy areas which have a direct impact on their welfare.

[1] As set out in Section A1 and C2 of the RFL Operational Rules
Player welfare will be a shared responsibility between the RFL and the Super League clubs. The RFL and Super League will allocate a budget line to player welfare.

Clubs commit to ensuring that all players including their first team squad engage fully with the Player Welfare Policy and that their players and staff take part in the centrally provided training and education programmes. Clubs also commit to providing a Player Welfare model within their Club which is as far as possible transferable when a Player moves from Club to Club or moves between Super League and the NRL.


The RFL and Clubs will act within the widest parameters of these general principles at all times in application of Standards and Delivery of the Policy.




In order to ensure that the Player Welfare Policy remains current and is being rolled out effectively clubs agree that there will be a Player Welfare and Education Forum to lead on strategy and monitor delivery and standards.

The RFL will establish and facilitate a Player Welfare & Education Forum which will meet on a quarterly basis and whose role shall be to:
- monitor Player Welfare delivery throughout the game;
- improve Player Welfare by developing and rolling out new initiatives;
- make recommendations to the RFL Board for amendments to this Policy and Standards; and
- where appropriate, ask the RFL to make further enquiries into concerns relating to clubs (in which case the RFL shall look into such concerns in accordance with Operational Rules A1 & C2.)
The Forum will include:
- An independent Chair with relevant experience from outside the sport
- A member of the RFL Senior Management Team
- The RFL Welfare Director
- A senior employee of RL Learning
- A representative from RL Cares
- Two representatives from League 13 - the Chairman & CEO (if either is unavailable to be replaced by another Management Committee member)
- A representative from the RLPA
- A current Player Welfare Manager (PWM)
- SL Head Coach
The Forum can decide to co-opt other members. Each member of the Forum shall report back to their stakeholders in relation to the issues discussed at any Forum meeting save that any concerns that relate to an individual club shall be treated confidentially.
Where the Forum has a concern about the standard of player welfare at a club it has the right to instruct the Welfare Director to carry out further enquiries into the concern and/or the club’s welfare provision in accordance with paragraph 3.2.


E6:3:2 The Welfare Director (or their appointed representative which may include an external body) has the right to make enquiries into a club’s welfare provision (irrespective of whether these are the results of concerns raised by a player, another club, the Player Welfare and Education Forum or otherwise).
Where the Welfare Director exercises such rights, each Club shall provide the Welfare Director with all reasonable assistance including by providing such records and allowing the Welfare Director to attend meetings and interview players and staff in each case as reasonably requested.
As a result of such enquiry, the Welfare Director can make recommendations to the Club. Failure to comply with any such recommendations shall be a breach of this Welfare Policy.
Such recommendations may include: agreeing delivery plans with the club or the RFL appointing a PWM to deliver the Policy within the club (in which case all costs of employment will be deducted from distributions otherwise due to the club). Any PWM appointed under these powers shall have authority to deliver this Policy within the club and all Persons Subject to the Operational Rules shall be required to assist the PWM in this task.




The RFL and Super League clubs will ensure that there is a formal line of communication with the players both through any player union or association (acknowledged by the RFL to be representative of players) and direct with players. The RFL & Clubs will also ensure that players have a voice in key decisions which impact on their careers and welfare and that players are consulted in all relevant policy decisions. The RFL will ensure that all players receive regular updates that explain RFL relevant policies.


4.1 Communication from the RFL

i) Professional Players’ Guide
The RFL will produce regular (usually bi-annual) Professional Players Guides which will contain information about the Player Welfare policy which will be mailed direct to players either by post or by email (or other electronic) means. Clubs must ensure that the RFL Registrations Department has players’ up to date postal addresses on record.

ii) Email
The RFL will send relevant communications to players direct, PWMs copied in. Clubs will ensure that that email and mobile contact details on the RFL Player Welfare Software are kept up to date at all times.

iii) Resources
The RFL will explore providing a secure and accessible (given the technology available) resource for player welfare information and resources.


Internal Communication within Clubs

PWMs will ensure that there are effective means of internal communication with the players which will usually include:

i) Welfare Notice Board - All clubs will ensure that there is a Welfare Notice Board or a section of the general players’ noticeboard available for the posting of welfare notices.
ii) Emails – clubs will ensure that emails are distributed to the playing group on request and encourage players to check their emails on a regular basis.
iii) Intranets & Hubs – where these are available clubs will ensure that the information is kept up to date and relevant
iv) What’s App Groups – clubs will establish appropriate What’s App groups for players and use What’s App to provide information. In addition PWMs will encourage players to accept invitations to join RFL Player Welfare Groups so that information can be distributed to them by the RFL.


Clubs’ Communication with Players

Clubs will ensure that all communication with players is open and honest. In particular Clubs undertake not to make misleading statements to players about their future contractual position and to ensure that all players are dealt with in a sensitive and thoughtful manner in this regard.




Player Welfare Manager (PWM)

All clubs will appoint a PWM who has the appropriate skills and attitude for the role as set out in the PWM Job Description (see Appendix 1). The appointment must be made in consultation with the RFL who may sit on any interview panel and shall have a right of veto for an appointment based on an objective view of the suitability against this Policy and the PWM Job Description. The PWM will be employed to spend a minimum of three days a week working on Player Welfare. The PWM must have ready and easy access to the first team squad environment during those three days. The three days do not have to be specified or full days of the week but the time spent on Player Welfare during an average week should add up to three days and the club should be able to provide evidence to show that this is the case. It is expected that the PWM will be available by mobile or email to respond to emergencies at other times.

The PWM may be employed at the club in another role as long as that role does not conflict with the PWM role and is not more time consuming than would be compatible with the PWM role. The JD for the other role and an explanation of how the two are compatible must be provided to the RFL.

There are some roles which cannot be shared with the PWM role these are Head of Youth, Player Performance Manager, CEO, Head Coach or any role directly involved in contract negotiations or disciplinary processes.

Where the PWM is the club Chaplain there must be another club Chaplain who takes no part in the PWM role.

Where the PWM has another paid role outside the club the club must have written assurances from that employer that the other employment does not prevent the PWM from committing to the three day a week requirement. This documentation must be shared with the RFL.

The PWM must have a contract of employment with the club (or a consultancy or volunteer agreement if not employed). The PWM must have a job description which should usually be the standard RFL PWM JD. Where clubs have professional indemnity insurance for employees it is recommended that the PWM should be included in this policy.

The PWM should be provided with a club mobile and club email address both of which will be published by the RFL in various publications and websites. PWMs must have access to a laptop (or tablet) and secure internet connection. The PWM must have a room which can be used as a private meeting place with players.

Where a club wishes to fill the role of the PWM in a different manner, such as an outside organisation or more than one person each taking parts of the role, it shall put forward a proposal to the RFL for approval. The proposal must show clearly who will have responsibility for each area of the PWM role and how they will work together. If agreed by the RFL the proposal showing areas of responsibility must be shared with the players.


PWM Qualifications

Initially the PWM does not have to have the required qualifications prior to appointment but must be willing and capable of achieving (as a minimum) the required qualifications as set out below and be actively working towards attaining these qualifications by attending courses and cpd organised by the RFL. Where PWMs fail to attend organised courses without sufficient reason the RFL shall charge the club for the cost of the PWMs place on the course. The Player Welfare Forum will when appropriate make it mandatory for PWMs to have the required qualifications prior to taking up their role.

- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) – two day course
- A Coaching Qualification (ILM L3 or equivalent)
- Basic Counselling Skills (BACP approved)
- Basic Advice & Guidance skills (C&G L3 or equivalent)
- Talented Athlete Lifestyle Support (TALS)
- UK Anti-Doping Advisor
- Safeguarding & Protecting Children (SPC)
- Time To Listen (TTL)
- RFL Equality & Diversity Training
- Functional Skills L2 in English, Maths & ICT
- Other qualifications, cpd and bespoke training courses as reasonably required by RFL from time to time


Head of Youth (HOY)

The HOY should have responsibility for Player Welfare in Academy age groups. The Head of Youth and PWM may have joint responsibility for players moving between the squads and must make it clear at all times who is taking the lead on any particular player.

The Player Welfare Policy will be extended to cover the Academies before the end of this policy.



Each club must have a club chaplain who is a member of Sports Chaplaincy UK. The Chaplain must be granted access to the players on an informal basis. The chaplain must be able to signpost players of all faiths to an appropriate faith leader. Where a Club Chaplain acts as PWM the club must have an additional Chaplain who is not directly involved in the PWM role.


Club Medical Staff

The PWM must ensure that all members of the club medical staff are aware of the role of the PWM by having a one-to-one meeting with them, following up by email including contact details


Club Coaching Staff

The PWM must ensure that all members of the club coaching staff are aware of the role of the PWM by having a one-to-one meeting with them, following up by email including contact details.

Club coaching staff (including Talent ID Staff) have a duty to support the PWM in their role and in the delivery of the Welfare Standards. They also have a duty to inform the PWM if they have concerns about the mental or financial well-being of a player.

Player Welfare workshops, careers one-to-ones and PWM quarterly one-to-one should be included in the training schedule circulated to players.


Club Welfare Officer (CWO)

The CWO (safeguarding) should usually be the Head of Youth and must have the appropriate qualifications.


HR Department

The club’s HR Department or staff who take on the duties of an HR Department must liaise with and involve the PWM in matters which impact on Player Welfare. In particular the PWM must be informed so that they can support the player in any disciplinary or contractual matter.




Clubs accept and are bound by the Confidentiality, Ethical Framework and Working Practices and agree that these are key to delivering good player welfare throughout the club. In addition clubs accept the importance of ensuring that the workplace is free from bullying and discrimination. Clubs recognise the nature of the PWM role and accept that PWMs will be privy to information about players that they cannot share with the Club management. Clubs commit not to put pressure on the PWM or any other staff or agencies who working on behalf of the players to breach this confidentiality and agree to ensure that the working practices at the Club are in line with the Standards and Delivery.
6.1 Working Practices
PWMs are expected to deliver the this Player Welfare Policy to the Standards set within this document and to carry out other areas of work which will benefit the Players and assist in the delivery of the Player Welfare Policy. The PWM Job Description is included as Appendix 1.

6.2 Confidentiality – General
PWMs must sign and abide by the Confidentiality agreement (Appendix 2).
6.3 Confidentiality – RFL Player Welfare Software
All PWMs must sign the RFL Player Welfare Software terms of use (Appendix 3) before being granted access to the system. Any PWM found to have breached the terms of use will have access withdrawn and may be subject to a Misconduct charge.
6.4 Ethical Framework
All PWMs are bound by the Player Welfare Ethical Framework (Appendix 4) and must operate within this at all times.
6.5 Best Practice
Whilst every club is expected to strive to have the best Player Welfare in the game, each PWM undertakes to work collaboratively with the RFL and every other club to share best practice and improve Player Welfare across the sport.
6.6 Equality & Diversity
All PWMs must be conversant with the RFL Equity Policy and Tackle IT! Programme. All PWMs will ensure that relationship between themselves and the players is one based on mutual respect and confidentiality. PWM’s will make every effort to respond to the diverse needs of the players and to challenge any unacceptable behaviour or language by the player or within the club environment.
6.7 Safeguarding Policy, DBS & Relationships of Trust
All PWMs should be conversant with the RFL Safeguarding Policy. All PWMs (and other related Welfare staff) must have a current DBS through the RFL. For the avoidance of doubt all Welfare roles are considered to be Relationships of Trust under the RFL Safeguarding Policy.
6.8 Bullying & Exclusion
Club staff are under a legal obligation not to bully employees. Bullying can include ridiculing or demeaning someone, exclusion or victimisation, unfair treatment, deliberately undermining a competent player etc. PWMs need to recognise bullying behaviour when they witness it or are told about it and understand that they must ask the victim for permission to speak to the club management.
6.9 Whistleblowing
PWMs should be aware of the RFL Whistleblowing Policy and as their first duty of care lies with Player Welfare would be expected to inform either the CEO of the Club or the RFL if there are practices or omissions at their club which breach this Policy or any Operational Rules or other policies which impact on Player Welfare either directly or indirectly. Clubs are reminded that the Whistleblowing Policy makes it an offence of Misconduct to discriminate against a Whistleblower.
6.10 Communication - General
PWMs will operate good standard working practices in respect of responding to emails, phone calls and messages from the players at the club, the RFL and external welfare providers. The PWM will ensure that there is a “go to” person available when they are on holiday and that players are aware of who is covering, email out of office replies must always be activated when the PWM is away for more than a day.
6.11 RFL Player Welfare Software (PWS) & Records

PWMs must follow the terms of the Confidentiality agreement when using the PWS. Protocols for the use of the PWS which must be followed are in Appendix 5. Use of the PWS is considered an essential part of these Standards. False entries made to the software to massage KPIs or for other reasons are considered Serious Misconduct. The RFL Player Welfare Director (or their representative including an outside organization) has the right to audit information inputted into the PWS.

6.12 Research

The PWM will take part in relevant RFL surveys and/or sponsored research projects which have the intention of monitoring and/or improving Player Welfare provision and will encourage players to do so too.




7.1 Club Welfare Group - Formal

Each Club shall have a Welfare Group which shall usually consist of the following:

- the CEO
- the PWM
- the Head Coach
- two players one of whom shall be one of the club’s Education Ambassadors and the other a member of the club’s leadership group and who will be chosen by that group
- the HOY
- a senior member of the club’s medical staff
- the club chaplain.

The group shall meet formally twice a year to review the club’s welfare provision and shall provide a brief report of the meeting (under specified headings) to the Club’s Board and the RFL. The PWM shall not disclose confidential information to this group its purpose is to ensure effective delivery not to discuss individual issues. The Club may invite the RFL’s Welfare Director to attend such meetings if it wishes.

7.2 Club Welfare Groups - Informal

PWMs may operate informal internal welfare groups including all those with some form of responsibility for player welfare within the club. These groups must not discuss confidential information about individual players other than with the player’s express permission.

7.3 Lines of Responsibility and Reporting

The Club is responsible for adhering to the Player Welfare Standards and failure to comply with the standards is a breach of the Operational Rules and may be dealt with by the RFL under Section D1 of the Operational Rules.

The PWM shall report to the Club CEO on player welfare matters even if they are line managed by other members of club staff for other parts of their job role within the club. The CEO shall be responsible for ensuring that the PWM is allowed to deliver the Player Welfare Policy to the Standards set out in this document.

7.4 Reporting Mechanisms

The RFL shall provide an annual Player Welfare Report to all CEOs. The report will cover standard key performance indicators and will also be provided to the RFL Player Welfare Forum and RFL Board. Each club will be able to see its position in comparison to other clubs on an anonymous basis; both the RFL Player Welfare Forum and the RFL Board will receive a fully named report.

In addition the RFL will monitor quarterly on KPIs so that immediate remedial action can be taken where necessary.

The RFL will commission annual independent research and/or audits including both objective and subjective (i.e. in the opinion of the players) measures of clubs’ performance.

7.5 PWM Meetings

The RFL will hold three formal PWM meetings each year one of which may be a two day meeting. PWMs must attend these meetings unless absolutely unavoidable. Where attendance drops below two meetings a year the club may be asked to explain the absence. It is acceptable for PWMs to miss a meeting due to personal holidays but clubs should respect the meeting dates and not require PWMs to carry out other tasks on those dates.

In addition the PWMs will hold an informal meetings a year the purpose of which will be to have unstructured and free ranging debates on good practice and problem solving. Attendance at these meetings is preferable but not mandatory.

7.6 Mandatory Workshops

Each year the RFL Player Welfare & Education Forum will mandate that certain central workshops are mandatory. These workshops must be provided to the first team squad and the costs of such workshops may be deducted from central distributions.

7.7 Other Workshops

The RFL may provide other workshops which whilst not compulsory are centrally funded and may be drawn down by clubs and/or players.




Clubs will treat all players as individuals, deal with them respectfully and ensure that they are valued within the club.


8.1 Club Player Induction Programme

The PWM must have an initial one to one meeting with each player who joins the first team squad within seven days of arrival at the club (where the player is relocating contact should be made as soon as possible after the contract). At that meeting the PWM will inform the player of the welfare provision at the club, ensure that the player enters the PWMs contact details into their phone, explain the confidentiality agreement, show the player the RFL PWS and provide the a copy of the PWS note. (Appendix 6)

8.2 Next of Kin

The PWM must keep an up to date record of the player’s next of kin including emergency contact numbers. Clubs should remember that partners and families may hear about injuries through social & mainstream media and should establish a system for ensuring that next of kin are informed about serious injuries particularly for away games.

8.3 Families & Partners

Clubs should involve players’ families, partners & parents in the club. Tickets for family and/or friends must be provided to home games and away games. As best practice each club should have one formal welfare update each year for players’ families and partners at which the club’s welfare policy and support structures shall be explained, this meeting may be part of an informal social event.

8.4 Private Life

From time to time all individuals will have challenges in their private life, PWMs will ensure that they help players to meet these challenges in a sympathetic and positive manner.

8.5 Relocation

It shall be the PWM’s responsibility to ensure the smooth relocation of players. Where another member of staff carries out the work the PWM shall be held responsible for the standard of the relocation. In particular the PWM is responsible in all cases for liaising with the Player’s previous PWM whether in the UK, the NRL or other professional sport.

All overseas players must be provided with a Welcome Pack (Appendix 7).
Players should be offered the option to set up a bank account in advance of arrival (not possible in France) (service available from Yorkshire Bank – other providers are available).

PWMs must ensure that they meet overseas players’ partners and families and provide contacts (with the appropriate consents) with the partners and families of overseas players who have already settled in the country.

Similar procedures must be followed with players who are relocating within the UK.

The RFL may require players to undertake a Relocation Assessment and PWMs will be required to put together a plan to carry out the recommendations from any such assessment.




The RFL and Clubs recognise that stress, depression, addiction and other mental health issues are common across the population and professional players are no different. However players have the additional stress not just of living their lives in the media spotlight but also the tough macho culture of professional sport and rugby league in particular. These factors can add to the strains that players feel and make it more difficult for them to ask for help. The sport needs to make sure that there are both support networks in place and systems to pick up early distress signals. In addition clubs shall ensure that there is no discrimination either overt or covert against players with mental health issues.

Clubs recognise that the player’s mental health and well-being are essential and undertake to operate at all times (including when the player is leaving the club) in a manner that enhances the player’s opportunities to be mentally and physically well both in the short and long term. The RFL will take every opportunity to assist in this vitally important area.


9.1 Training

Clubs will ensure that all relevant staff have the required mental health and counselling qualifications as set out from time to time in the RFL Operational Rules E14 (Appendix 8) or in this Policy. PWMs and other club staff should monitor player behaviour and react to any signs of depression and/or addiction etc by speaking to the player on a one to one basis and ensuring that suitable support is available. PWMs must ensure they adhere to the Ethical Framework in not offering support for which they are not appropriately trained.

9.2 Counselling & Rehabilitation Service

The RFL has an agreement in place with Sporting Chance (see Appendix 9) to provide “free to user” counselling and rehabilitation services which cover depression, anxiety, addiction, bereavement, marital breakdown and signposting to other organisations and/or services where necessary. In addition the RFL will provide detoxification and psychiatric assessment as recommended by Sporting Chance. These services are confidential. All players must be made aware that these services are available including all new players to the club as part of their induction. A Sporting Chance poster must be displayed on the Player Welfare noticeboard and contact details easily available on any intranet system used by clubs.

Where a player has confided with the PWM that he needs or is seeking assistance from Sporting Chance the PWM should ensure that he has regular informal one-to-ones with the player to make sure that his treatment is progressing and to make sure that any assistance the club can provide is available to support the player.

The RFL has an alternative counselling service available through LPP which is also available on an anonymous and free of charge basis should this be the player’s preference.

9.3 Player Workshops & Training

From time to time compulsory workshops will be provided to educate and support players in the areas of Mental Health and Well Being.

9.4 Social & Prescription Drug Policy

All PWMs must be fully conversant with the terms of the RFL Social & Prescription Drug Policy and must ensure that all players new to the club receive information about the policy. (Appendix 10)

9.5 UKAD Violations

PWMs will provide support for any player who is charged by UKAD with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. Clubs must inform the PWM of any Violation immediately.

9.6 Disciplinary Proceedings & Dismissals

PWMs will meet with all players who are disciplined and/or dismissed for disciplinary reasons immediately after their dismissal to see if there is any support required. Where appropriate the RFL Welfare Director must be informed, particularly where a player is leaving the club and requires ongoing support.

9.7 Club Cultures

All clubs will work towards an open and supportive dressing room culture that recognises that players and staff may have mental health and/or addiction problems and will support them in seeking help.

All staff at the club should be aware that at any time they may have players in recovery from alcohol, gambling or other addictions and should ensure that the club environment does not include a drinking or gambling culture.

In particular clubs must ensure that there are suitable protections and alternatives in place for players with alcohol and/or gambling problems or those who do not drink or gamble for other reasons such as religious beliefs on club “bonding” trips and “Mad Mondays”. As a matter of good practice the PWM should speak to relevant players about the safeguards the player intends to put in place. In addition coaching staff and players should be made aware that when a player refuses a drink (or to gamble) no pressure should be put on them to do so.

Gambling must be strictly prohibited on Academy team coaches or within the Academy environment.

Each club must have an alcohol and gambling policy which is supportive of the principles in 9.7.

9.8 Injured Players

PWMs shall ensure that they keep in regular contact with injured players to monitor their state of mind and where the injury prevents them from attending the club and therefore regular contact with team mates will take action to ensure that they do not become isolated.

Where injury leads to early retirement the PWM and club will comply with 15.7.3 below. The player will also be encouraged to attend the transition meeting at the end of the season in which he retires.

9.9 Independent Social Worker

The RFL retains the services of an independent social worker to assist players in dealing with statutory authorities. The service can range from complex and potentially serious personal problems which require a multi-agency solution to more simple issues.

The service is available free to the user and can be accessed by the PWM or the player direct. PWMs will make sure that they are aware of the service and offer this support to players in relevant cases.

9.10 RFL Benevolent Fund (Try Assist)

The PWM will ensure that players are made aware of the work of the RFL Benevolent Fund and that PWMS are aware of when a player may be eligible for assistance (appendix 11).

9.11 RL Cares – Hardship Grants/Loans

RL Cares will consider making hardship grants or interest free loans on a case by case basis when a player faces severe hardship and all other routes have been exhausted. PWMs should be aware that this may be a possible route to assist players suffering financial hardship.

9.12 League 13

PWMs should be aware of the services available from League 13:

The sports lawyers of Blacks of Leeds provide free initial advice on employment matters. League 13 also has an employment fees scheme free to members that focuses on some of the most common areas where advice or legal assistance is required including employment problems with consumer goods, home rights, tax enquiries and personal injuries. The policy provides a £50,000 limit per case of indemnity for legal fees and assistance to exercise legal rights in:- Employment Disputes; Personal Injury Claims; Tax Protection; Jury Service; Consumer Disputes; Home Rights & Boundary Disputes; Criminal Prosecution Defence; Education Appeals; Probate Disputes; Identity Theft. There is a 24 hour advice line available to all members. The CEO of League 13 is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel & Development and provides all round professional human resource, employment and career transition advice as do sources of other professional contacts. Players can be represented at employment disciplinary and grievance hearings.

9.13 RLPA - GMB

PWMs should be aware of the services available from RLPA - GMB:

The RLPA, through their Union Training schemes, have knowledge & experience in dealing with Contractual matters & can advise players (& clubs) of the legal obligations when signing a Contract of Employment. The RLPA can also represent players with regards to any Grievances that may occur or any Disciplinary matters at their clubs.

Membership of the RLPA includes unlimited cover of legal costs if the player has a genuine reason for challenge any decision by their club which might impact of their Contract of Employment & Terms & Conditions.

The RLPA has a 24 hour a day “Hotline” for Member Players to call if they need any advice or guidance with regards to their Contracts of Employment, or any Educational matters, etc.




Players need to understand the standards and behaviours that are expected of them and the implications for their reputations and careers if their behaviour is not of the highest standards. PWMs are key to ensuring that players receive the education to equip them with the situations they will encounter as professional sportsmen.

In addition education in lifestyle and personal development will ensure that players have good life skills, show respect to all (including language and behaviour) and make wise and ethical decisions both on and off the field.


10.1 Anti-Doping

PWMs are responsible for ensuring that the Anti-Doping education as required by the RFL from time to time is rolled out within their club. Currently each professional player has to attend a workshop delivered by a UKAD Educator each year.

10.2 Social & Prescription Drugs

The RFL Social & Prescription Drugs policy is a welfare policy and as such the PWM is responsible for driving the policy within the club. This includes arranging such workshops as the RFL may require, speaking to individual players who the PWM reasonably believes may have a dependency or social use problem with drugs, receiving disclosures from players who seek help, managing the results of the RFL testing programme in conjunction with the club doctor and the RFL, managing a players relationship with Sporting Chance including ensuring that he keeps up with the recommended counselling and/or rehabilitation. It may also include attending initial AA or other support meetings with the player.

10.3 Alcohol

PWMs will ensure that relevant workshops are provided within the club and ensure that they are aware of and look out for the signs of excessive drinking amongst their players. PWMs will deliver any RFL Alcohol Policy to their players and more widely to relevant staff members.

10.4 Gambling

Clubs will deliver centrally provided workshops to ensure that players are educated about gambling addiction.

10.5 Integrity in Sports Gambling

The RFL requires players to attend Integrity in Sports Gambling workshops to ensure that they understand the RFL’s Operational Rules in relation to gambling, match fixing, inside information and general integrity. PWMs will receive training to ensure that they are conversant with the rules.

10.6 Social Media

Clubs should make sure that players receive awareness training in the responsible use of Social Media and are aware of the RFL’s Social Media Code of Conduct (Appendix 12). The RFL has a framework presentation which clubs can personalise to cover their club’s Social Media policy. The presentation may be carried out by the PWM or the Media Manager. Clubs should monitor their players Social Media output this should usually be carried out by the Media Manager, not the PWM. Clubs must have a clear Social Media policy which must be published through the club’s usual channels.

10.7 Media Training

The RFL Media department offers various types of media training to Super League clubs each season – clubs will be notified of the details of the training available and the eligible players on an annual basis.

10.8 Presentation & Public Speaking

Clubs regularly require players to speak to groups both sponsors/hospitality guests and in schools/community settings. Clubs should ensure that players received relevant training beforehand; the RFL will ensure there is a suitable deliverer available.




It is recognised that whilst many professional players earn substantial salaries, others may well be able to earn more in alternative industries and that even for those top earners have a career which is limited to an absolute maximum of twenty years and in most cases much shorter.

The RFL and Super League clubs will ensure that players are provided with financial advice and education, information about pensions and insurance and given help and assistance if they encounter financial difficulties.

The RFL and Clubs will regularly review the insurance provision in place and in particular continue to review the possibilities of providing centralised income protection insurance.


11.1 Financial Providers

The RFL will use best endeavours to maintain a relationship with a suitable financial provider who can give advice and education to players, provide competitive private banking, loans with competitive interest rates, debt management advice, set up accounts for overseas players prior to arrival, provide links to competitive insurance products.

Clubs may use their own provider to advise their players subject to the provider being appropriately regulated and the club having a MOU or equivalent with the provider. . Where a club choses to opt out of using the RFL’s financial advice provider it must log the details of its advisor and the appropriate MOU with the RFL and provide the same service. The RFL will not take any responsibility for approving or advising on individual club arrangements.

11.2 Financial Education

Clubs will ensure that all players within their squad attend such compulsory financial advice workshops as the RFL shall determine. These workshops aim to give players basic financial literacy including budgeting skills and will include more detailed information on determining pensions, investments and insurance requirements. Financial education will be split into modules so that PWMs can chose the appropriate modules for any particular group and keep a record of which modules each player has received.

11.3 Financial Advice

The RFL’s financial advice provider shall be given access to the club’s first team players on up to two occasions a year to provider a drop in one-to-one financial advice service usually at the training ground at a time convenient to the players. The PWM will be responsible for arranging and facilitating the sessions.

11.4 Financial Health Checks

Each player shall be entitled to a Financial Health Check through the RFL’s financial provider which will ensure that the player understands his current financial position, has a personal financial plan and if necessary assist players to draw up their own financial plan and/or basic budget.

11.5 Debt Management

The RFL’s financial advice provider will be available to meet with players who have run into financial difficulties or debt to provide advice on resolving the situation.

11.6 Central Insurances

PWMs will make sure that all players are made aware of the scope and limitations of the RFL’s central insurance provision, this may take the form of a short workshop or be carried out as part of formal one to ones. The RFL will provide an annual Insurance Statement in an easy to read form which will summarise the insurance which is in place and the main areas for which no central provision is made.

11.7 Income Protection Insurance

PWMs will ensure through the provision of RFL provided workshops that players are aware that there is no central provision of income protection insurance for career ending injuries. Clubs may choose to take out their own Income Protection Insurance for their playing staff.

11.8 Pensions

The RFL will provide a reputable, regulated pensions advisor who will be available to provide workshops to players which give general pension advice.

Clubs will ensure that players understand the club’s auto enrolment scheme.

11.9 Private Medical Schemes

Clubs will ensure that all players on Full Time contracts are provided with documentation explaining the Private Medical Cover that is in place, the protocols in place to access it and what exclusions are in place.
It is best practice for all Part Time players to have Private Medical Cover however where a player is not covered by its Private Medical Cover (part-time players only) this must be made clear to the player in writing explaining what medical cover is in place.

11.10 Financial Difficulties

It is recognised that some players will find themselves in financial difficulties from time to time. PWMs will ask players as part of their formal one-to-one sessions whether they have any financial concerns and will informally watch for any obvious signs of financial distress.

Where players have financial difficulties PWMs may link the player up with the RFL’s financial advice provider and/or provide information about other methods of obtaining advice on debt management. PWMs may also, in appropriate circumstances, signpost players to the RL Cares Hardship Grants/Loans scheme.




Clubs and players must aim to act with courtesy and respect towards each matter on contractual matters and apply the contractual terms as fairly and reasonably as possible.


12.1 Standard Players Contract & Registrations

PWMs will ensure that they and their players attend any RFL provided workshops or deliver any RFL presentations explaining the Standard Players’ Contract, the Supplementary Clause Bank, Grievance & Disciplinary Procedures and the Guidance Notes. PWMs will check that players have a signed copy of their current contract.

Clubs will ensure that they abide by the RFL’s Contract and Registration Rules and in particular by the Guidance Notes to the Contract and the Disciplinary and Grievance procedures linked to the contract.

12.2 Club Rules

PWMs will ensure that the relevant coaching staff have made the club rules including any disciplinary provisions clear to all players and that the rules are available at the club in a clearly accessible manner. A copy of Club Rules must be provided to the RFL on an annual basis.

12.3 Agents

PWMs will ensure that players receive the RFL advice note for players explaining the Operational Rules relating to agents.

12.4 League 13

PWMs should be aware of the services available from League 13 see 9.12 above.

12.5 RLPA - GMB

PWMs should be aware of the services available from RLPA – GMB see 9.13 above.

12.6 RFL Independent Tribunal

The RFL has an Independent Tribunal system which is available for players to use in the case of dispute with the club or in the case of disciplinary or grievance issues with the club or if a player’s contract is terminated by the club. The Tribunal is chaired by a leading employment lawyer. Details can be found in Appendix 13.




13.1 Career Readiness

“Engaged in Education or Career Training” is the main KPI for ensuring the success of the objective that each player plan and prepare for their future career and to ensure that they are ready to move into that career when the time comes. See Appendix 14 for the definition of “Engaged”
PWMs are responsible for ensuring that a player’s engagement is completed accurately on the PWS.

13.2 Career Coaches

The RFL will maintain a system of providing Career Coaches to work with players. Subject to the annual budget allocated to Player Welfare clubs may be charged for the careers session such charges to be deducted from central distributions.

Each player must have a compulsory one-to-one meeting with a Career Coach who will complete a Personal Development Plan for the player. Where a player refuses a one-to-one this must be recorded on the PWS in the player’s notes and the player must sign a waiver which will be stored on his record. Where a player refuses this should be re-addressed sympathetically on at least an annual basis.

13.3 PDPs, PWS Careers & Goals

All players should have their current status on Careers & Goals updated on the PWS or alternatively the PWMs must store a player’s PDP on the PWS and update it at least each time they have a formal one-to-one with the player. See PWS protocols Appendix 5.

PWMs should assist players where appropriate in achieving the goals on PWS/objectives on their PDPs whilst encouraging the player to take responsibility for themselves.

13.4 CV Writing & Building

The Careers Coaches can provide workshops on CV writing and these should be arranged for groups of players wherever possible to make best use of resources. PWMs must store copies of CVs on a player’s RFL PWS record.

13.5 Job Search & Interview Techniques

Job Search and Interview Techniques workshops are available from the Careers Coaches. Again wherever possible players should attend these workshops in groups in preparation for transition.

13.6 Networking

PWMs will work with their commercial departments to ensure that there is at least one opportunity each year for each first team squad member to attend a networking event organised by the club. This networking event will generally be one that the club is already running and players will attend both to assist the club and to develop their own network of contacts.

PWMs will ensure that players understand the benefits of networking and how to achieve the most out of a networking event.




Clubs and the RFL recognise that in order to have a smooth transition from the game players must undertake education and training during their Rugby League careers so that they have employment opportunities open to them on retirement. It is also recognised that research shows that professional sportsmen who study and/or train during their playing career perform better. All Clubs will encourage participation in education and/or training and Clubs will consider making grants for the provision for education and/or training as part of their contractual negotiations with players (Salary Cap exempt). Clubs will honour the contractual obligation to give players every opportunity to study/train and give players positive support in this regard particularly by ensuring that there is time allowed as set out in the Standards.
The RFL and Clubs will work with RL Learning and other education and training providers to access opportunities for players. In addition all Clubs recognise the contribution RL Cares makes in providing grants towards education and/or training and will encourage all players to take out and maintain membership of RL Cares.
14.1 Time for Education &/or Training

All clubs have undertaken to ensure that no player is required to attend training or club functions on a Wednesday afternoon. All players must be free to leave the club by 1pm at the latest. Any club failing to allow players to attend education and/or training on a Wednesday afternoon (without the prior written permission of the RFL which will not be unreasonably withheld) will be considered guilty of Misconduct under the Operational Rules and may be subject to a fine and/or where appropriate the costs of the missed session.

14.2 Prior Educational Attainment

Each player must have his prior educational attainment recorded accurately on the Welfare software.

14.3 Functional Skills

All players must have their educational achievement at English, Maths and ICT recorded on the PWS. Players who have not achieved English, Maths and ICT to GCSE C+ (or relevant national equivalent) should have their Functional Skills assessed and have objectives to attain either Functional Skills L2 or English and Maths to GCSE C+. The RFL has set a target that 100% of players who are within a first team squad will leave the game with Functional Skills at L2.

14.4 RL Cares Grants

PWMs will ensure that players are aware of the grants towards Education and/or Training which are available from RL Cares (Appendix 15). PWMs will ensure that information provided by RL Cares is distributed to all eligible players and that timely assistance in completing applications is given.

14.5 Salary Cap, Contract Negotiations & Education Grants

All clubs should consider offering to provide education/training grants to at least ten players each year as part of their contract negotiations. The grants should be for courses which are consistent with the player’s PDP. Players are under no obligation to accept these grants but they must be available as part of the contract negotiation. Any grants made in this manner sit outside the club’s Salary Cap provided they meet the terms of Operational Rules E1.

14.6 RFL Centrally Organised Courses

From time to time the RFL either through RL Learning or alternative training and education providers will provide centrally organised courses for players. These courses will usually only be open to current or recently retired players (and other club staff) and will be run on Wednesday afternoons. Wherever possible these courses will be fully funded to the end user, where they are not the costs will be made clear to players before registration. Where players miss courses due to the club breaching the Wednesday afternoon rule (see 13.1 above) the costs and/or damage to the programme will be taken into account when issuing a Misconduct charge.

14.7 RL Learning

RL Learning will, where possible, provide relevant learning opportunities for players including but not limited to: RFL Coaching courses and Strength & Conditioning courses. RL Learning will offer certain courses at discounted rates for professional players (currently Rates may vary from time to time and current prices will be provided on application or via RL Learning and/or the Welfare Director.

14.8 Education Ambassadors

Each club shall appoint one or two respected players with relevant experience as Education Ambassadors (Appendix 16).

14.9 Education Mentors & Study Groups

The RFL will arrange a network of Education Mentors who can support players undertaking degree courses and Clubs will arrange Study Groups within their club to provide support for players who are studying both from the club and their peers.




Clubs acknowledge that work experience is invaluable in assisting a smooth transition to a post RL career and will encourage their players to take up opportunities, using their local business network.


15.1 Work Experience Schemes

In addition to local provision through Clubs the RFL will build and maintain a “bank” of work experience providers who will provide work experience to players on one of two schemes:

i) Try It Work Experience
This is an opportunity for a player to find out more about a particular industry to see whether it is a post RL career pathway that he is interested in. Try It Work Experience shall usually last for no more than six half days usually over a six week period.

ii) Ready for Market Work Experience
This is an opportunity for a player who has obtained a qualification or skill in a particular industry and needs to gain experience in that industry either to keep his qualification current or to gain experience to make him employable on retirement. This work experience will be flexible to meet the requirements of player and work experience provider and may involve the player getting work experience on his day off or during the closed season.

15.2 Club Work Experience

Clubs must also consider offering work experience to all full time players outside the Top 25 for one or two weeks, this has many benefits both for Club and Player.




It is recognised that many players in all team sports struggle to cope with life after leaving professional sport. There are a variety of reasons for this: loss of the structured and disciplined environment that sport provides; no targets or goals; withdrawal from the support of teammates and camaraderie; missing the physical buzz of playing; financial hardship; loss of self-esteem and a sense of belonging.

Players leave the sport at different stages: those that are not retained on the basis of performance either at the end of their first professional contract or at a later stage; retirement due to injury; dismissals following disciplinary action due to a variety of issues including dependency; club financial failure or relegation/promotion; and retirement due to age. The game requires a range of exit programmes to suit the various reasons for leaving the sport.


16.1 Informing Players of Decisions about their Future

Where a player is going to be informed that he will not be offered a contract or that his contract is going to be terminated due to long term injury, clubs must do this in a sensitive and supportive manner. In particular players must not be isolated, excluded or treated in any other manner that could constitute bullying. See Appendix 17 for details about recommended processes.

16.2 Transition Programme

The consistent application of the Player Welfare Policy and Standards should mean that all players are prepared for their transition out of the game. However during the period just before a player leaves the game additional resource must be provided to ensure that each individual player’s transition is as smooth as possible. In addition until the Policy & Standards are completely embedded there will still be players for whom transition will be significantly challenging and who will therefore require additional support. However regardless of how well a player has been prepared for transition there are some players who will struggle particularly with the emotional impact. Research into transition shows that it the first two years after leaving a team sport are the most difficult and that when a player feels that he is in control of the decision to leave the game and his future outside it he will find it easier than players who have the decision taken out of their hands who have no plans.

All clubs must work to make the Transition period as easy as possible for each player who leaves their club.

16.3 Transition Meeting

The RFL will run a transition meeting for players who have not received a full time contract offer for the forthcoming season by 1 September. The Transition Meetings must be included in the club’s training schedule for the appropriate week and must be considered compulsory. See Appendix 17 for details of content.

16.4 Transition Players

Clubs will provide a check list of practical issues which may need resolving such as finding a GP or buying a car (Appendix 17).

16.5 RFL & Retiring Players

Where a player has publicly declared that he is retiring the RFL CEO will write to player thanking him for his contribution to the game and detailing central welfare provision which remains available.

16.6 Player Exit Interview

PWMs must carry out a one to one interview with all players leaving the Club. See Appendix 17 for details of the issues to be covered and Player Welfare Software updates which must be carried out in each particular set of circumstances including the employer and job that the player is moving to.

16.7 Additional Measures

PWMs will, where the contact is welcomed by the player, keep in touch with players for twelve months after they have left the club and will provide reasons for players to get together with other past teammates. Where a PWM feels that the relationship between PWM and player may break down the player must be formally “handed over” to the RFL
Clubs will:

- Ensure that its Players’ Association is active and that the members feel valued
- Encourage its Players’ Association to make contact with players after they have left the club
- Encourage the Players’ Association to run a Masters teams for its ex-players (can be combined with commercial opportunities)
- Ask the Club Chaplain to keep in contact with players for two years after they have left and make sure that the Chaplain is aware of the support mechanisms still available
- Invite past players to reunions to celebrate anniversaries of significant club events eg Challenge Cup wins etc
- Invite past players to significant club events – opening of new stand, supporter forums etc
- Invite past players to matches (on a rota basis if numbers require)
NB for the purposes of 16 above Players’ Association refers to any organisation which Clubs or players from a particular Club form which is linked to that Club.


E6:17 Currently Player Welfare at Academy Age groups is the responsibility of the Head of Youth and forms part of the Academy Accreditation process. This will be reviewed in due course to ensure that there is a smooth transition between the Academy and the First Team and that the policies are synchronised.




Clubs and the RFL acknowledge that other game policies have a direct impact on Player Welfare and undertake to ensure as far as possible that players views are sought and welfare taken into account when reviewing existing policies and/or drawing up new ones.


The PWM will ensure that they have a working understanding of other relevant RFL Rules and policies such as the Medical Standards; Qualifications standards; RFL Agents Rules; RFL Anti- Doping Policy; RFL Registration & Salary Cap Rules; RFL Blood Borne Diseases Policy and RFL Safeguarding Policy and are available to support players with the impact of these policies.


1 PWM Job Description
2 PWM Confidentiality Agreement
3 Player Welfare Software Agreement
4 Player Welfare Ethical Framework
5 Player Welfare Software Protocols
6 Player Welfare Software Advice Note for Players
7 Relocation Pack
8 Qualifications
9 Sporting Chance
10 Social & Non Prescribed Prescription Drug Policy
11 RFL Benevolent Fund
12 Social Media Code of Conduct
13 Independent Tribunal
14 Career Engaged Definition
15 RL Cares Grants
16 Education Ambassadors
17 Transition