Is the move north losing its luster?
All Blacks

Is the move north losing its lustre?

Is the move north losing its lustre?

Leinster legend and Wallaby captain

Luke McAlister, Aaron Mauger, Chris Latham, Carlos Spencer, Lote Tuqiri, Victor Matfield, Mark Gasnier, Rocky Elsom and Dan Carter.

What do these players all have in common? They are players who chased the more lucrative pastures of the northern hemisphere but have now returned home, are returning home or have shown strong interest in returning home.

Some like Latham and Spencer who are returning south this year are probably in their last season of professional rugby, but at the same time they could still earn fairly lucrative contracts playing in the French II Division if they wished.

There are deeper, underlying factors bringing players like Gasnier, Mauger, McAlister, Elsom and Carter home. As Peter Hewat, ex-Waratah and now Lond Irish player said exclusively to G&GR,

“(I) definitely think that the amount of guys coming over is less. Combination of the world cup, Melbourne and also with the foreign rule in the UK it is harder to get in and with the downturn in the economy clubs have tightened their belt so the big money deals aren’t so big anymore.”


France is also a major factor here, the talk of introducing a salary cap of EUR $8 Million in the 10/11 season will have a massive impact, also a foreign player quota whilst not immediately critical will increase in the following years and improve the value of French players.

Whilst England, Wales and Ireland still provide a threat to the Southern Hemisphere playing stocks, removing much of the French pulling power will mean more British Isle players remain in there home nations, therefore reducing the need to recruit as many foreign players.

A longer S14 season will increase the value of SH players through match payments and the extra exposure, not to the point that they will be able to compete with European contracts, but just maybe to the point it will make most players reconsider the decision.

Australia also has the incoming 2013 British Lions series which will be a useful bartering card for many players who come up for contract negotiations,  for as a player you only get one opportunity to play against the British Lions in your career, and one that cant be ignored.

Playing in Europe will always be a intriguing concept for many players, the chance to immerse themselves in a different culture and explore a different part of the world will always draw some players. However, it’s just possible that it might return to being a concept delayed until the twilight of there careers, rather then the prime.

  • chief

    Summed up well. Success for the Wallabies, means more respect and reason to turn to Australia, success for AUS S14 will ensure more crowds. Which means better sponsorship and more money. Means bringing foreign players to Melbourne and to the other clubs.

    Can’t wait until the Lions tour however, so keen for that to occur. They want to add Argentina to the schedule meaning that Argentina get 2 tests and 2 club games. Which will mean that Australia only get to play 3 club games (Tahs, Reds, Brumbies) and the 3 tests. I want more club games, hopefully would get some televised game coverage.

  • ozrugbynut

    In short, no. Its a GFC, and im sure many NH clubs have had to tighten the purse strings, so id say it might be a temporary thing. NH contracts will be back with a recovery and all the Australian and NZ/SA unions should plan ahead to retain players in the future.

    • TOCC

      A GFC it is, one that hit England and Ireland incredibly bad, the economic growth in these two countries will be a lot slower in the forthcoming years, companies will be tighter on sponsorship and broadcasters may not splash out as much for the next broadcast agreement.

      Australia on the other hand has come through relatively unscathed, and considering the dismal tv ratings Super14 receives we still stand to receive a pretty good increase in the value of the SANZAR agreement.

  • Rocky Elboa

    I am an Australian living in England and the starkest contrast between the GFC here and at home is that here it isn’t called the GFC its a recession.
    However having said that given the fact that the London Irish v Leinster game had to be moved to Twickenhams to accomidate a larger crowd I don’t see the recession having that much of an effect. In reality the popularity of the game is on the increase here, the game is getting better, particularly the Hieniken Cup, and the sponsor and clubs know that this is at least partly due to the international contingent of players.
    Also I think the move back of players south has more to do with coincidence e.g. Spencer and Latham and a desire to play in the world cup e.g. the rest of them. I see your point regarding the lions tour for OZ but I think we will see a exidous after the WC from NZ and SA
    We will probably also see far more Rocky and Carter senarios where player leave for a year or two between WC

    On another note the French clubs can not legally limit the number of players from within the European Union so a limitation on interational in the Top 14 will have little to no effect on the other European comps

    • TOCC

      fan support might not have dropped, but patronage figures only count towards a small portion of a clubs income, the real money come from sponsors and broadcasters.

  • Hillsy

    Do you think our S14 clubs could ever play in a tournament against Heineken cup clubs, in a sort of World Club championship? I think this would be great exposure for Rugby and clubs alike, putting more emphasis on club level.
    I know this would have many issues that it would need to nut out initially, eg where would we fit it in an already overcrowded schedule?

    Maybe make it a super 8 draw, 4 semi finalists from both comps to battle it out…

    Has this happened already? Because i think it would be a great tournament.

    • TOCC

      this would be a fantastic event, however conflict over the scheduling will forever prevent such a tournament.

    • Would be awesome, right until the bloody crusaders win it.

    • Ozrugbynut

      I think that a single one-off game between the top club sides in the SH and NH comps would be more feasible and would attract a huge global audience.

      What about a SH Barbarians side, or a NH Barbarians side playing head to head?

      Whether its in IRBs interests, the NH/SH rivalry does exist, so why not use it to generate some interest?

      • TOCC

        i believe they tried such a match after the boxing day tsunami, whilst it went well there were massive dramas just getting it off the ground if i remember correctly.

  • Ozrugbynut

    Its interesting there has been a bit of interest from OS-based Aussie players namely Gerrard. Anyone heard how Hugh McMeniman is travelling?

  • A good world cup list for reference. Thanks a lot.

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