ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
REGISTER
LOGIN
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump
Wednesday Jul 8, 2020

Beauden Barrett's millionaire Japan deal could mark a change in professional rugby contracts

Beauden Barrett signing with Tokyo-based franchise Suntory Sungoliath is currently the talk of New Zealand and world rugby and it raises a few questions about how player contracts need to be handled in future if national unions are to keep their star names closer to home.

ADVERTISEMENT

Barrett is reportedly set to earn $1.5 million for his one-year contract with the Japanese side – a team which has current England head coach Eddie Jones as a key consultant and Director of Rugby – before returning to the Blues, with whom he joined from the Crusaders at the start of the new season.

It has sparked a debate in New Zealand. Barrett clearly isn’t the first big Kiwi name to up and leave, with the likes of Julian Savea, Ben Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga and Charles Piutau moving to French and English clubs respectively, with All Black second-row Brodie Retallick the latest to take a sabbatical to Japan.

For those still perhaps unaware, rugby is a business in the professional age and no more so than in Japan. Big multi-national companies not only invest huge sums of money into clubs, but their names are all over them as well and this is at the heart of the national project of building the sport even more in the country.

That means that lucrative contracts which pay really well are becoming increasingly hard to turn down for the professional player. In contrast, the unions from which the player comes are faced with an inevitable exodus unless player contracts are revisited.

Barrett’s situation is a little different of course. Much like Retallick, the aim is to return to New Zealand for the next World Cup, so the damage is largely limited by the one-year deal. But as the panel on Sky New Zealand’s The Breakdown discuss, Barrett is perhaps the exception, not the norm when it comes to star players looking elsewhere.

ADVERTISEMENT

Possible solutions range from transfer fees like in football, where the “purchasing” club is required to pay a certain sum to release the player from their existing contract, presumably paid to the franchise or union the player belongs to.

Or, a dual contract type agreement which seems to be the way Barrett has negotiated his sabbatical in Japan and new-for-2020 deal with the Blues, whereby the player can leave for another club while committing to returning to their home country within two years.

And it doesn’t stop at New Zealand either: South Africa’s top players such as Jesse Kriel, Willie Le Roux, Gio Aplon and Handré Pollard have all left for Japanese clubs – Pollard returned to the Bulls but then joined Montpellier in France’s Top 14 for 2019. English players like George Kruis, Freddie Burns and Alex Goode have recently signed for Japanese clubs as well.

That’s not to say that players like Burns, Kruis, Aplon or even the Dan Carters, Fourie du Preezs and Adam Ashley-Coopers are wrong to take big-money deals elsewhere, particularly when their chances of representing their countries are becoming slimmer. It’s the young, in-form players that are being picked for World Cups and Six Nations/Rugby Championships that unions are looking to retain.

ADVERTISEMENT

How that will unfold is the next big question in professional rugby.

Related Articles

  • 29 WEEKS AGO

    Teams join forces to pay emotional tribute...

  • 36 WEEKS AGO

    All Blacks appear to have found a long-term...

  • 45 WEEKS AGO

    Will Jordan's FIVE TRIES against Tonga reinforce...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Watch: Blues score two STUNNING tries against Queensland Reds

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Racing 92 know how play ‘GORGEOUS’ rugby

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Teddy Thomas rinses defence with BLISTERING pace

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Every Ulster try scored in Europe this season..and it’s glorious!

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Fijian Drua show RIDICULOUS skillset and can score from anywhere

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 1 DAY AGO

    WATCH: Sickening Shot Leaves Motionless

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Hardest hit of all time

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Duhan Van der Merwe makes INCREDIBLE try saving tackle

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Fans not happy with another ‘appalling’ red card tackle in Super Rugby

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Fans shocked after old school punch up caught in refs mic

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    Hooker scores masterful try

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Tadhg Furlong produces one of the best ever passes by a forward

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Hardest hit of all time

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    Leicester Tigers respond to hilarious fan incident

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Thrilling clash between Munster and Toulouse settled by a place kick shootout

View All

Funnies

  • 7 HOURS AGO

    WATCH: First It Was BoJo Now It's ScoMo

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Dad and 7 sons in Ireland forward pack

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Shocking mistake by Brumbies fullback prevents a certain try

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Ellis Genge hits back at Brian Moore

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby was too violent, says UFC legend

View All

Amateur

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Watch: Epic Speech Epitomises Rugby Values

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Epic touchline conversion from Tighthead seals the deal

  • 13 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Veteran props compared to Tadhg Furlong in new viral video

  • 80 WEEKS AGO

    Viral video of Scottish club brawl goes down a storm with rugby community

  • 117 WEEKS AGO

    RUGBYDUMP BLITZ: This Best of the Week round up is sure to entertain you

View All

Player Features

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Harlequins full-back to leave at the end of the season

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Fans shocked after some huge recalls in the England squad

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Huge opportunity for young prodigy

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    All Black World Cup winners teaming up in the USA

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Tom Dunn drops bombshell after Bath humiliation this weekend

View All