Jamie Roberts is to leave Cardiff Blues at the end of this season to join Racing Metro in Paris.
The club released a statement this morning in which their frustration was obvious, bemoaning the structure of Welsh rugby and the fact that they simply cannot compete with higher-paying countries.
Cardiff Blues Chief Executive Richard Holland said in the statement:
“The offer that we made to Jamie was an extremely attractive one and would have seen him become certainly the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK.”
“As a business we simply don’t have the resource to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.”
“Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region but we wish him the best of luck with his career.”
“Given news of Jamie’s departure we will begin the search to find a suitable marquee player who will be eligible to play for us throughout the entire season.”
Cardiff Blues Chairman Peter Thomas added,
“We have invested a lot of time, money and effort developing Jamie as a rugby player from an early age after identifying him as a star of the future.”
“We have stuck by him through thick and thin and supported him during last season when he only completed two matches for the Blues because of his knee injury and international duties, playing 15 matches for Wales.”
“It is impossible for the Welsh regions to compete with the kind of money that is on offer from other clubs in other countries.”
“The time has come that the Welsh benefactors should not be responsible for funding the professional game.”
“The chairman of the regions can guide companies but if we want to keep Jamie Roberts and other international players in Wales then the governing body has to intervene.”
“The player drain out of Wales, which has a negative impact on the Welsh regions and the national team, will only continue without increased funding from the governing body.”
“As an example with our recent game against Leinster, the IRFU pay for fourteen of their players and additionally fund the province for the remaining players in excess of 4 million euros. Compared to the cost of the Cardiff Blues squad that’s almost double.”
“You’ll never win the Heineken Cup with that margin to compete with.”
“The governing body has to take far more responsibility.”
I actually met Roberts at a PR event before this year’s Six Nations, and he mentioned that he’d like to play in France for the experience of it, suggesting that this move is not all about the money.
But Cardiff’s dissatisfaction with the whole thing is obvious. Can anything be done to prevent the Welsh exodus? Are wholesale changes required?