French club rugby’s governing body, the LNR (Ligue Nationale de Rugby) has announced radical new plans (entitled the ‘New Deal’, showcasing France’s bizarre love of anglicised naming devices) designed to improve the Top 14, and by proxy the French international team, from the start of next season. The main changes are listed below.
On the pitch:
– a bonus point will be awarded if the losing side finishes within five points of the winning team’s score, rather than seven
– an automatic one match suspension for players that receive three yellow cards over the season
Off the pitch:
– between June and August, the French national team coaches will establish a list of 30 players that will form the French squad for the coming season
– the salary cap will remain at €10 million, but clubs providing players to the national group of 30 will have their salary cap increased by €100,000 per player (e.g. a club providing three players to the France squad will have a salary cap of €10.3 million)
– compensation to clubs providing players to the national set-up will increase from €550 to €1,300 per player per day
– rules surrounding transfer loans will be relaxed, with the aim of getting more young French players playing regular first team rugby
– stricter penalties will be handed down to those deemed to be behaving in a way that ‘undermines the image and spirit of rugby’
The on-pitch amendments are clearly designed to promote more attacking rugby while making the game cleaner. Teams will have to chase the game harder to win a losing bonus point, while the suspension for three yellow cards will hopefully encourage players to be a little less reckless.
The creation of an EPS-style agreement will be music to the ears of the likes of Toulouse coach Guy Noves, who typically provides a large chunk of the national team, and will now have a pretty good handle on which players he will be without for international windows, as well as receiving a healthy bump in terms of compensation.
And if the final two bullet points are fairly vague, they are also promising (unless your surname is Boudjellal). With the salary cap limit set to stay as it is (and even grow for clubs providing players to the French set-up), the number of foreign superstars in the league is not likely to diminish. Making it easier for clubs to loan out young French players, who might otherwise find their path to the first team blocked, is therefore a huge step in the right direction.
What do you make of the new rules in the Top 14? Will they be beneficial to French rugby, or are these needless changes?
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images