A video of two South African URC rugby players sitting in cramped economy-class seats on a flight to Italy has gone viral. The players, Reinhard Nothnagel and Ruben Schoeman, who both stand well over six feet tall, were travelling with the Lions rugby team to play a match against Benetton.
The video shows the players with their legs protruding out the sides of the seats, highlighting the cramped conditions that they, and likely many other of their teammates, were forced to endure when travelling to the match. The footage sparked a debate about the treatment of professional athletes in the rugby industry, particularly in relation to the cost of international travel.
Professional rugby players are often required to travel long distances to play in matches, and the cost of air travel can be a significant expense for rugby teams, particularly those with limited budgets. As a result, many players are forced to fly economy class, which can be particularly challenging for those who are tall or have larger physiques.
While the Lions players in the video appear to find the situation amusing, it highlights a serious issue within the rugby industry. Professional rugby players work hard to maintain their physical fitness to compete at the highest level, and being forced to endure cramped and uncomfortable travel conditions could impact their performance on arrival.
As the rugby industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s important that teams prioritize the health and well-being of their players by providing adequate travel accommodations. Whether it’s through upgraded seating options or increased travel budgets, investing in player comfort and safety can lead to better performance on the field and a more sustainable rugby industry overall.
— Riaan Louw (@Ringo26) April 9, 2023