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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 'CHUCK' MCCABE'S SEND-OFF

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 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs SHA 02:05Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs STO 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Stormers 2 2 0 0 23 8
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 2 1 1 0 11 6
View all
 
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