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IRB won't help Wallabies keep Israel Folau

Date
Wanted man: Israel Folau.

Wanted man: Israel Folau. Photo: Getty Images

The ARU won't receive any help from the International Rugby Board (IRB) in its battle to keep superstars like Israel Folau from defecting to cashed-up French clubs.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper sympathises with the plight of the Australian Rugby Union, which is fighting a war on all fronts.

Domestically, the ARU finds itself with backs to the wall in an ultra-competitive sporting market and, at the same time, dealing with the ever-present threat posed by European poachers.

Folau is reportedly being targeted by French side Toulon to become the highest-paid player in world rugby and defect before next year's World Cup.

If the Wallabies' best and most marketable athlete was to leave, it would serve as another major blow to the financially strapped ARU, and would force it to rethink its stance which prevents overseas-based players representing Australia in Test matches.

Gosper says the IRB is conscious of the potential for an imbalance to be caused in world rugby, where clubland begins to dictate the international game, like in European soccer or cricket's IPL.

However, he doesn't believe the threat has reached "Armageddon" proportions and says it's the ARU's job to convince Folau and other targets like Will Genia to stay.

"Folau is one of the world's top rugby properties so he's going to be vulnerable to the big offer," Gosper said on Wednesday.

"The ARU should be persuading him that this is the place where he has his celebrity, where he's a local hero, where he can cash in on his celebrity and play rugby to his potential and look at the total picture - not just his pay packet.

"But, at the end of the day, it's totally up to him.

"The IRB is not in a position to say, 'you're going to lose a marquee player - here's a cheque'.

"That's just not how the IRB operates."

Gosper insisted "clubs are not the enemy of rugby", however he said if international unions wanted to discuss a new compensation system to deal with new market forces, then the IRB would be open to discussions.

At the moment, member nations are compensated at World Cup time and given a piece of the IRB's cut.

Gosper said he hoped the lure of playing in an Olympic Games would help the ARU hold onto Folau.

AAP

26 comments so far

  • As far as I know Izzie is contracted to the ARU until after RWC so it's not a problem until then. I can't see them releasing him early.

    Commenter
    Stephen
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 11, 2014, 9:26PM
    • I wouldn't be shocked to find out there is an out clause in his contract . His management seem to do a pretty good job of making him free to sign the best offer around. I hope he stays as players like him are needed in international rugby.

      Commenter
      Shane D
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 10:51AM
    • Contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on. The ARU will have no way to stop him if he goes to French Rugby or the NRL. It just the way it is these days. I would have thought the chance to play in the RWC and the Olympics would be a major draw card but so to is a lot of dosh. Will be interesting to see what happens, but puting your head in the sand and saying it wont happen is just plain dumb.

      Commenter
      Trenno
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 1:12PM
  • Rugby will eat itself.

    Commenter
    Joe the expat
    Location
    The Hague.
    Date and time
    June 11, 2014, 9:45PM
    • Fancy the French coming into our backyard to poach what they cant produce themselves

      The French sides are full of players from all over the world making 'super teams' that are watched by millions...............wow they might be onto something here !

      Playing for ones state and country at the highest level has to be benchmarked against what else is out there . They have a short window to earn and play - and thats becoming the most likely source of wealth they will have long term ..ARU/NZU need to address revenue and futures of the game when the rest of the world dont play by them same rules or care for theirs

      He will stay - and the ARU and NZU will relax the laws allowing them to return to play both sides.....

      Commenter
      gman
      Location
      nsw
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 6:07AM
      • Not sure about the laws being relaxed in NZ Gman. The rule that to be an All Black you must play in a NZ Super 15 team has been one of the ways NZ has been able to retain the best players. I guess the main difference is that if a player leaves NZ there is usually a pretty good back up coming through. NZ is very lucky that it does not have the same pressures from other sports to take good players away from rugby and also that the value of having earned the black jersey is still enough to keep most of the best players in NZ.

        There are always some good ones who go away for other opportunities but overall this is a small number and they are only missed for a little while. I hope Folau stays and represents Australia through to the World Cup as he brings a lot to the game and is a crowd pleaser.

        Commenter
        Masher
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 12, 2014, 4:37PM
      • NZU???? NZWHO????

        Commenter
        Camomatic
        Location
        The Winners Circle
        Date and time
        June 12, 2014, 6:16PM
    • Easy. Let him go to France, but still pick him if he's playing well in France. Maybe even a trail match for overseas players. Time has come for Australia and New Zealand to wake up and pick the best available from anywhere in the world.

      Commenter
      sod98
      Date and time
      June 12, 2014, 7:55AM
      • Sort of agree, Nick Evans and Carl Haymen were big losses to NZ rugby but for the moment NZ keeps producing players to fill the gaps. Aussie is still trying to build depth, I remember reading there is around 30 odd NZ players in Aussie super teams this year this is probaly both a blessing and a curse for the ARU.

        Commenter
        weka
        Date and time
        June 13, 2014, 9:40AM
      • Sod, if you think that there is any chance of a French club releasing its players for a trail match you are dreaming .

        Commenter
        Shane D
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        June 13, 2014, 9:43PM

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