In a monthly wrap, RW discusses the salary cap, the million pound man - Dan Carter, dual contracts and the crocodile rolls
Dan Carter deserves to be the first £1 Million player
When Dan Carter signed for Racing Metro he became the first £1million player in the history of rugby. Many will argue that the 2005-2008 version of Dan Carter was more worthy of a £1million price tag than the current Carter, and in all honesty, they’re spot on. Dan Carter is past his peak (but what a peak it was), the injuries are mounting and his game time is dwindling. Yet despite this he still deserves to be the highest paid player in the world. Carter is more than a role model; he is the role models’ role model. Even Jonny Wilkinson has to doff his cap to Carter.
DC hasn’t just dominated his sport for over a decade, he has done so without even the slightest blemish – a high tackle on Martin Roberts in 2009 probably being the nearest that he has come to a misdemeanour. The likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have all lost their shine at one point or another. Even the angelic Roger Federer has been known to smash a few racquets. Not Carter. His off-field performances have always been matched by his on-field genius and once retired is certain to become a Knight in New Zealand’s Order of Merit. Bit of advice though, Dan. If you are trumpeted for a Knighthood don’t mention it on Twitter unless you’re 100% sure…
National Dual Contracts are working
As with all things in Welsh rugby there is little agreement on any subject, let alone something as vital to the future of Welsh rugby as National Dual Contracts (NDC) – the process by which both the WRU and a Welsh region splits the funding of an individual player 60%/40%. December saw the announcement that Dan Lydiate, Hallam Amos, Tyler Morgan and Rhodri Jones have joined Sam Warburton in signing a Dual Contract, and just today, Jake Ball signed on the dotted line. The signing of players who have not yet nailed a place in the Welsh team has raised a few eyebrows, particularly the signing of Rhodri Jones who is as yet to have commandeered a starting role at his regions let alone Wales.
However, despite misgivings towards NDC they are already working. Eighteen months ago the Welsh media was full of rugby administrators, coaches and pundits wearing black shrouds, wailing on their knees, and bemoaning the death of Welsh rugby. That is no longer the case. Players arent fleeing in their droves as Wales now has the ability to retain them. Warren Gatland has already contracted two senior internationals and I understand that after another simple discussion, another three or four players will follow. NDC’s may not be a perfect option, but they are a damn sight better than no option at all.
‘Crocodile Rolls’ need addressing.
Alligator Rolls/Gator Rolls, whatever you want to call them; the process of twisting/ rolling a player off his feet at the ruck, is a serious issue for rugby. It’s understandable why this new manoeuvre has become so prevalent. Trying to shift 17-plus stone of muscle once it is in a low, stable body position is nigh on impossible.
However the ‘Gator Roll’ often involves rolling the player with one arm around the upper chest and neck. The taking of the ‘neck’ is a particularly effective tool as once a players head is forced to move, the rest of the body has little choice but to follow. But it does seem strange that this taking of the neck is allowed by referees. Particularly when you consider how tip-tackles and high-tackles are rightly refereed with such vigour. The constant flux of rugby union means there is always an area of the game that requires immediate attention – the ‘Croc-Roll’ should be next.
Nonu is a risk
Ma’a Nonu is obviously a massive signing for Toulon; quite literally in fact, his potential partnership with Mathieu Bastareaud could trigger a Tsunami every time they play at the Stade Mayol. He is arguably the best 12 in the world and no-one combines his ability to crash the 12/ 13 channel and zip a 20-foot spiral pass off both hands – no-one. However, whilst Nonu is the best 12 at test level many, particularly in New Zealand, would question his form at club level.
Nonu has a mixed record in Super Rugby and has played for three of the five franchises. The last time that the NZRU had to find Nonu a new franchise there was a genuine reluctance from all parties to take a risk on him. His relationship with the former Hurricanes, and now Cardiff Blues coach, Mark Hammett brought a level of iciness not seen since Elsa, Princess of Arendelle, last lost her rag. There is no doubt that Nonu’s signing has stolen the transfer headlines for Toulon – but let’s hope that the headlines remain positive throughout his contract.
Salary Cap Suicide.
December saw Saracens release a statement saying there was widespread support – well, seven clubs, who are yet to go public – calling for a scrapping of the salary cap which currently exists in the Aviva Premiership. Whilst there are clear benefits to increasing the cap slightly, in order to compete with the French, scrapping it altogether would be suicide for the English top flight. Removal of the salary cap would simply increase salary inflation year-on-year and lead to the unsustainable mess that many football clubs find themselves in.
For example in 2012/13 The English Premiership had a wages-to-revenue figure of 71% – it was just 44% during the Premier League’s first season in 1991-1992. The net result of wage inflation would be an increase in the already widening gulf between those with wealthy benefactors and those without. It is a very serious issue that wouldn’t just affect the club game in England, but potentially across the world.