Speaking to Ian Malin in The Guardian newspaper, Richards said that his players couldn't have given more and what they needed now was rest and not a trip to foreign climes for international duty. Nor did Richard see much merit in having to go through the gruel of a wildcard match against a side that finished 13 points below them in the Premiership.
Elsewhere in the same newspaper the theme of player fatigue was continued with John Rawling carrying a quote from former international Damien Hopley saying, " The gladitorial nature of modern professional rugby takes a physical toll. I compare our game with the NFL in the United States, where they have a five month season."
Hopley is now Chief Executive of the Professional Rugby Players Association who believes that, "the entire structure of the season needs to be tweaked and that it's vital that administrators pay more attention to the needs of the players."
Closer to home, at the annual Rugby Writers of Ireland banquet last week, former IRFU President, Niall Brophy - himself an Irish international and British & Irish Lion - broached the subject the subject of player welfare when he said that with the extended Celktic League added to the Heineken Cup meant that players in this country were being asked to play too much.
Former Welsh international turned journalist Eddie Butler, says that studies conducted in the early days of professionalism, when the overuse of the then modern player gave cause for concern, are now deemed absurdly passe. Accoding to Butler, (Observer May1st) the present thinking seems to be that burnout is not nearly as dangerous as rust.