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.

Comments




Related Articles

  • 13 WEEKS AGO

    World Cup winner to return after year long...

  • 14 WEEKS AGO

    Rugby league golden boot star set for huge...

  • 30 WEEKS AGO

    Hurricanes miss the memo as New Zealand clubs...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Five of the best tries from the Investec Champions Cup

  • 16 WEEKS AGO

    The dummy that sold the whole of Perth - including the cameraman

  • 16 WEEKS AGO

    Bayonne score 'one of the best tries you'll ever see' in latest match against Exeter

  • 17 WEEKS AGO

    Baloucoune shows Andy Farrell what he's missing as the winger tears through Harlequins defence

  • 29 WEEKS AGO

    Seriously impressive Courtney Lawes compilation released after England player calls time on international career

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Danny care binned for high tackle on Courtney Lawes

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Debate rages on after Maro Itoje sent to bin for high shot

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    Fiji Drua player Lomani slapped with ban following elbow attack

  • 15 WEEKS AGO

    The sending off that rocked the Six Nations opener

  • 16 WEEKS AGO

    Wrecking ball beats 10 players to score full length of the pitch try

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Danny care binned for high tackle on Courtney Lawes

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Wild start at Twickenham as Quins pull off another wonder-try

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    Tickets now on sale as World XV set to face France in thrilling encounter

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    '60 metres, plus change' - massive drop goal stuns fans

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Referee makes 'tackle of the season' as he gets too close to the action

View All

Funnies

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Nick David unexpectedly shows up to semi final in full kit

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: The worst camera angle in rugby history

  • 4 WEEKS AGO

    Louis Rees-Zammit's real reason for NFL move exposed

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    George Ford falls victim to the kickers curse

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Awesome scenes as Blitzbok fan throws down at the HSBC SVNS

View All

Amateur

  • 70 WEEKS AGO

    You Won’t See Many Better Than This Silky-Smooth Try From Llandovery RFC

  • 71 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes As Caldy RFC Hand Ealing First Championship Defeat Of The Season

  • 94 WEEKS AGO

    Dubious Score Decides Result Of Rugby's Biggest Schools Fixture

  • 94 WEEKS AGO

    Incredible Scenes At School Boys Rugby Match

  • 94 WEEKS AGO

    The Next Dominant Backrow?

View All

Player Features

  • 23 HOURS AGO

    2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations Player of The Championship

  • 1 DAY AGO

    Mack Hansen breaks down over ‘lack of craic’ in comedy skit

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Harlequins make giant new signing

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Nick David unexpectedly shows up to semi final in full kit

  • 3 WEEKS AGO

    Billy Vunipola releases statement following arrest

View All