Should we worry about the English exodus to France?

After months of contract negotiations, Wasps have confirmed that James Haskell, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer are leaving the club the play in France.

Some have referred to the selection of Andy Goode into the England team, proving that overseas players can still be picked for International duty.

The draw of the French clubs’ spending power could see more English players heading south to play in the French Top 14 where there is no salary cap. This would mean that the elite player agreement between the English clubs and the RFU – whereby players are released two weeks prior to an international – would no longer be worth the RFU headed paper that it’s printed on.

On the other hand, perhaps our players will learn something from the French – a touch of flair that may improve our national side.

What do people think?

8 thoughts on “Should we worry about the English exodus to France?

  1. Difficult to say what will happen as it’s the first time we’ve seen any players move to France whilst being first XV England players. We’ve seen a few past their prime players (Luger, Thompson, Cohen) make the move, and we’ve even seen a couple of players move over there and play their way in to the England team (like the thoroughbred Englishman Perry Freshwater and more recently Fatty Goode).

    It all comes down to – as you’ve said here – whether the variety and standard of rugby on offer outweighs the downside of the loss of time with the England squad, which is a pretty subjective one to answer.

    However, I’d stick my neck out and say that I think it could be a good thing -provided that they’re playing for the top clubs. I don’t really believe that lack of time with the players is England’s biggest problem. It is a problem, granted – but I see our disjointed season as being the far bigger problem.

    As long as players are going to French clubs that are in the Heineken Cup, I think it could do wonders for their rugby. Even without the RFU agreement applying to those players, I can’t see the French clubs failing to look after players they’ve invested a lot of money in, so I don’t think we need worry about their welfare too much. In fact, the worst thing for their welfare would probably be to stay put.

    If they don’t go to the top clubs, it may not be such a good thing. I’ve always been of the school of thought that says Jonny Wilkinson could have been an even better player if he’d left Newcastle for one of the big clubs (I know it hasn’t worked for Flood, but…well, he’s Flood!) and played high intensity meaningful games at club level regularly, and I think that’s true whatever country you’re in. So if you’re going to a lesser club, get all the cash you can, because it could be the end of your England career. I know Goode’s got back in, but he’s more the exception than the rule – Thompson and Cohen haven’t done much at Brive.

    It’ll be great for Haskell too – he’ll pick up a whole new vocabulary like “carte jaune” and “dix minutes”!

    I’d just love it if the French ended up making England a better side! They’d probably just send them all back home.

  2. For England – fine, for Wasps – difficult.

    England might benefit further by the fact that Wasps will have to quickly blood another English centre to partner Waldouck and fast-track Hugo Ellis into the starting lineup to cover Haskell. 2nd row is covered for the time being with Skivington and Birkett to partner Shaw (for next season at least).

  3. Judging by Wasps performance on Sunday against Leicester they’re better off without Haskell and co. especially as Haskell will be spending most of his time in the “boîte vilaine” or whatever the sin bin is called in France.

  4. If they play in France they will be over-played and England will have release problems .I think their league ends in late June or something ridiculous like that , G THe French clubs want their pound of flesh , for instance their players are going back to the clubs this weekend and don’t rejoin the French squad until Sunday at the earliest . Considering they are playing Wales on Friday evening (another story that ! ) not the best preperation for them.

  5. Continued …… It will not help any future Lions prospects either , Gareth Thomas had to join late last time because Tolouse would not release him , put it this way any Welsh players with international asperations have all sooner or later made their way back here from France.

    Keith when will the Euro fall off the cliff is this before September when I go to Greece -hope so ;-)

  6. Clearly not a situation that was contemplated when the RFU and GP clubs made their “agreements” about number of games and release for elite squad players. They probably won’t pay the French clubs for their release, so the French are unlikely to be accommodating. What you going to do about that Mr Andrew?

    On the face of it though, I agree with Rob, that if the players go to the top clubs with plenty of HC action (while still keeping their games down to a manageable number) it can only be a good thing. Those players will be exposed to something new (like moving the ball quickly and running more than 2 yards with it) while back in England the GP clubs will be forced to look for replacements. I’m assuming, of course, that they look to their academies rather than clapped out SH has-beens or nearly-wases.

  7. I’d hope that these players, remaining ambitious internationals, will negotiate a clause in their contracts which allows them to be released for national training. Don’t know what the current French arrangements are (beyond shrugging and saying ‘bof’) but hopefully they will be able to sort something.

    Beyond the issues of international training, I am glad to see some English playes broadening their horizons. They will come back hardened, a al Nathan Hines, and I think it will be beneficial. I have wanted Wilko especially to go to France for years instead of sitting in his comfort zone. I think he would be a better player for it. Haskell should improve as his big weakness at the moment (beyond discipline) is that he sticks the ball under one arm, ploughs forward and never looks to offload. At Stade they will encourage him to keep the ball alive and that can only be a good thing.

    Interesting that Flutey has enjoyed playing outside Goode so much that he’s decided to join his club. I look forward to watching Flutey playing for France in the 2013 Six Nations.

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