Another way to fix Australian rugby: Why not just let our players go to Europe part-time?


Australian Rugby is caught in a difficult situation regarding player retention, club finances and player development.

Clubs like the Waratahs, Brumbies and of course, the Rebels are all struggling to pay their bills. This, alongside the loss of fringe players, and Wallabies, leads to reduced talent pools and excessive spending on individuals. We have struggled to implement a third-tier competition due to the logistically challenging landscape of Australia, limited finances, and the small viewership market. How do we fix this? Simple, we allow individuals to go overseas, but, under the contract of our Super Rugby clubs.

Izaia Perese is leaving the NSW Waratahs. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Australia continues to produce high-quality and desirable rugby players, contrary to our negative self-perception, overseas clubs are falling over each other to buy out players. Think Josh Kemeny, Lachlan Swinton, Will Harrison, and Izaia Perese within the past month.

This desire for our players should be viewed as a positive, not a negative. We should utilise this demand for our players to bolster our poor wages and underdeveloped pathway system.

The season timing between Europe and Super Rugby allows for a perfect opportunity to loan out players to clubs that need them for half of their season, before they return home, richer, more skilled and I assume quite chuffed with their ability to travel the world, unlike their cousins in Australia.

I will provide some specific examples, that I think will provide some merit to my argument, using my team, he Queensland Reds – players like Ryan Smith and Angus Blyth coming in at 199cm and 50 caps and 205cm and 46 caps respectively.

If they are unlucky enough to not achieve higher honours could fetch a pretty penny overseas with their skills and knowledge. Why, then, do we send them back to club land for Brothers and Bond University to run around against plumbers and accountants? The smartest option is to loan them to one of the numerous clubs in Europe willing to pay for them. Being modest, let’s say they earn 85k pounds, due to them playing around half the season. This translates to $165k. Which effectively doubles the salary of a base player.

With this in mind, the Queensland Reds are taking a risk allowing their players to go overseas. So, they deserve compensation, possibly 20% of their salary, around $32k. Before long, the Queensland Reds could be sitting on $400k of income which they could invest however they see fit, pathways, investment properties, more long lunches or marketing.

I will demonstrate, how the current Queensland Reds could do this with their current squad.

I will adjust prices based on my assumptions of their relative value on the market factoring in Wallabies’ caps, Super Rugby caps, and position. I will, of course, leave out players who will most likely get a Wallabies cap and realistically be out of contention.

Ryan Smith: 165k
Wilson Blyth: 165k
Zane Nonggorr: 180k
Josh Nasser: 120k
Taj Anna: 110k
Richie Asiata:110k
Jock Campbell: 150k
Sef Fa’agase: 140k
Mac Grealy: 115k
Tom Lynagh: 120k
Kalani Thomas: 130k
Seru Uru: 125k
Suliasi Vunivalu: 140k
Connor Vest: 120k

Super Rugby salary cap: $450,000

Total additional salary: $189000 42% of the total salary cap. Added to non-Wallabies players.
Reds’ gain: $378,000

Additional caps: If all goes well, the aforementioned players will have the chance to play nine games in their time away from Super Rugby. These games will be against quality opposition, in front of large crowds and provide significant experience.

Fourteen players potentially gaining nine caps each amounts to 126 extra caps for your developing and fringe players.

To me, this seems like a no-brainer. Players could double their salaries, and clubs gain valuable income. With this increased salary for players, Super Rugby clubs don’t need to pay overs for players, leaving potentially, future investment into developing players and extending and wider squads.

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