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England wants to stop rugby talent drain

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

LONDON - England's leading clubs are determined to challenge the financial rewards on offer in French rugby in a bid to prevent a post-2015 World Cup player drain.

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has highlighted the importance of making it commercially feasible for members of the England squad to reject an approach from the Top 14 in France.

It is current RFU policy to only select those playing at non-English clubs in exceptional circumstances, a position Ritchie views as "fundamental" to retain control of England internationals.

So far the stance has succeeded but with the financial rewards in French club rugby at an unprecedented high because of the increased revenue from a new TV rights deal, it is feared there may be an exodus after next year's World Cup, to be held in England.

French rugby has at times also proven irresistible for rugby league players, with National Rugby League premiership winners Mark Gasnier, Craig Gower and Willie Mason all having stints there.

But Ritchie believes playing for a Premiership club and England should be financially competitive, if not superior to the prize for competing elsewhere.

"We should not be behind in making it economically right for people to continue to play in this country," he said.

"I don't like a scenario where someone says 'I can get blank when I go overseas'. We should be able to match all of that over here.

"We should be absolutely at the top of the pile here. We should help to try and achieve that and we should be unashamed of that."

Premiership clubs operate under a salary cap that increases to STG5million ($F15.36million) next season, while England players benefit from a match fee of STG15,000 ($F49,048).

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