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ARU sabbatical rules set to help Brumbies keep their stars in Australia

Saturday Serve

The ARU's new contract rules have been duped the ''Izzy Folau trump card''.

The ARU's new contract rules have been duped the ''Izzy Folau trump card''. Photo: Getty Images

It's been dubbed the "Izzy Folau trump card" but the ACT Brumbies are set to start using the ARU's new contract protocols as a lure to lock in their stars on long-term deals.

You can call it a cash grab or a mercenary dash, it doesn't matter. There's a simple answer to the question of whether the ARU's decision to relax its contract rules will help Australian rugby.

And here's why: Ben Alexander, David Pocock, Stephen Moore and Tevita Kuridrani can earn bucketloads overseas, but they want to play for the Wallabies.

Matt Giteau could still be playing for the Wallabies.

Matt Giteau could still be playing for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images

Now they can do both, to a certain extent, and it's likely all will ask the question when they negotiate new deals.

Remember Matt Giteau? No? He was the 92-Test veteran, Brumbies championship winner and a Queanbeyan junior.

If he doesn't ring a bell, how about Ben Mowen, the Wallabies captain and Brumbies skipper. George Smith?

Would Ben Mowen have left the Brumbies?

Would Ben Mowen have left the Brumbies? Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Then there's Peter Kimlin, a redhead Canberra junior who was on the verge of cementing a Wallabies berth.

Giteau, Mowen, Kimlin and Smith started to question their future with the Wallabies. All four quit Australian rugby. And all four signed massive deals with French clubs.

But if you'd given them the option to take a break from the rigours of Australian rugby, fill their pockets with some extra cash from rich European clubs and then return refresh and rejuvenated, they would have all taken it.

George Smith may have been a one-club player under the new ARU contract protocols.

George Smith may have been a one-club player under the new ARU contract protocols. Photo: Melissa Adams

So now picture this: a Brumbies back line with Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Giteau, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Nic White, Joseph Tomane and Jesse Mogg.

In the forwards there'd be Mowen, Kimlin, Scott Fardy, David Pocock, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sam Carter and Scott Sio. Not a bad-looking Super Rugby outfit.

Would Giteau, Smith, Mowen and Kimlin have stayed in Australia if they had the option?

"Guys would have definitely stayed. A lot of those guys make the decision to go overseas. Your career is finite and there is good money on offer overseas," Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.

"When you come out of the game you've got to start from scratch again. So it's hard to turn down. This framework is in now, people will push it right to the limit."

The ARU has given permission for Super Rugby clubs to allow one non-Wallabies player to take a sabbatical overseas.

The ARU will then help negotiate with its top 30 players if they're willing to sign for three years or more and keen to supplement their earnings with a season abroad.

On the surface, it could be a disaster for the Brumbies when the rules apply from 2016 onwards.

Imagine if Pocock, Moore, Lealiifano, Toomua, Kuridrani, White and Carter wanted to take a break at the same time. It's a nightmare.

Larkham is keen to start negotiating with Pocock, Moore, Alexander and Kuridrani as soon as possible to lock away key members.

But by Larkham's own admission, they'd be "crazy" not to investigate adding a sabbatical clause into any new deal.

Kuridrani was almost tempted overseas last year, Pocock has played just five games in the past two seasons, and Moore and Alexander would be attractive options for cashed-up clubs.

Scott Fardy has signed a one-year extension, but at 30 years of age he could be tempted to leave Australia.

The ARU's problem in the past is that they've farewelled players like Giteau, Kimlin and Mowen without any possibility of them returning.

They then rarely come back, mainly because of the money on offer, a new lifestyle and the thought that a Wallabies jersey has passed them by.

For too long the Wallabies jersey has been used as the only temptation for players to stay in Australia.

Pat McCabe is perfect example of why it's hard for players to turn down big-money offers from overseas. One injury, or three in McCabe's case, can be the end of it all.

A rugby career doesn't last forever. No one blames players for taking a chance to maximise their earning.

And if the ARU didn't introduce this new policy, they would have gone broke trying to keep their stars.

Here's the only problem. There was an original plan for the ARU to introduce the rules with players allowed to go overseas once they'd earned 50 Wallabies caps or served Australian rugby for four years.

Why did that change? Folau. To date he has played 20 Tests and been in the game for two years. The challenge for the ARU is making sure they don't upset the NSW Waratahs' rivals by opening doors for Folau, and then shutting them on others.


Pat McCabe wasn't a flashy player. But ask anyone at the Brumbies and they'll tell you he was the toughest.

McCabe, 26, retired this week after breaking his neck for a third time.

He spoke with emotion and optimism for the future after he made his decision.

There's one image of McCabe's career that stands out in my mind. In the 2011 World Cup clash against South Africa, he was playing with a busted shoulder which would eventually need surgery and almost six months recovery.

He threw himself into every tackle and helped the Wallabies win. But before the game finished, McCabe reluctantly left the field with blood pouring from his nose. He was angry he couldn't finish the game for his mates.

That's just one reason why Pat "Chuck Norris" McCabe will be remembered as the toughest bugger in world rugby.

Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED 0vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43vs RED 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17vs RED 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19vs HUR 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35vs LIO 33 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25vs BRU 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46vs REB 29 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20vs BRU 30 Stats
CHT 24vs HIG 45 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31vs REB 15 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27vs WAR 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19vs LIO 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU 7vs HIG 44 Report Stats
REB 11vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU 24vs CRU 37 Report Stats
CHF 13vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31vs RED 5 Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 29vs CHT 42 Report Stats
SHA 34vs STO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Qualifying Finals
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
HIG 24vs CHF 14 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19vs BRU 39 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 29vs BRU 9 Stats
WAR 17vs HIG 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Grand Final
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
HUR 14vs HIG 21 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 2 0 170 66
Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
View all

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