Thursday Feb 11, 2010 The Ross Skeate Diary - Contract Negotiations 101

The Ross Skeate Diary - Contract Negotiations 101

The Ross Skeate Diary - Contract Negotiations 101

Ross is back with another interesting diary entry for RD today. This week he’s back in Cape Town, thinking out loud about Charlize Theron, rugby players being old at 27, and Jacob Zuma’s five wives. There’s a little bit about contracts in there too.

Hello from Cape Town! No I havent returned to the Stormers, but weve got a week off and my brother is getting married. Quite convenient really.

But while thats happening its the time of year when the casual and not so casual back and forth of contract negotiations takes place. Or as I like to refer to it: “What the hell is going on!?”

It’s at this stage of the European season where it’s all about contract negotiations and recruiting. I can almost hear the simultaneous smacking of every agent’s lips as we speak.

Of course this is something that the public is somewhat privy to. The huge media saturation of the multi-million Pound and Euro signings of soccer stars – and some big name rugby stars too – have all added to the cause.

Mourad hasn’t mentioned anything about my offer yet by the way (see

last weeks column

) – I knew I should have bought him the Marge Simpson edition of Playboy instead. He is after all, into comics.

But I digress, basically it’s now that the clubs across the UK and Europe will be recruiting new players and re-signing new deals. The UK is admittedly a lot quicker on the draw than France, but our club for example has seen the renewal of contracts like Jonny Wilkinsons and Joce Suta’s, as well as a few newbies packing their berets and cheese boards for a southern French move.

Of course the major questions on everyones lips – there’s that smacking noise again – is the permutations with regard to the quota’s recently instituted in the French league. Those aren’t just the quotas requiring 40% of each squad to be French nationals this year (I think it’s 40%, and re-nationalized individuals also count), but also a new tax structure making each player that much more expensive for each club. Get it? Well its got some of us wondering too

The first quota I can understand but the new taxing requirements just seem like an attempt at controlling the large amounts of cash in some contracts. Note to self: renegotiate fee with Mourad to maybe only 1.1 million Euro. Either way they are here to stay, the quotas that is and not distribution of the Marge Simpson edition Playboy’s, and stay they shall, just like Jacob Zuma’s five wives.

The first quota, the one to do with the amount of French Nationals in each squad, rises from year to year. This of course affects the smaller, ‘younger’ clubs more so than it does the established big name clubs like Toulouse, Clermont etc and that’s because those clubs are the primary breeding grounds for the French National team.

They contain the majority of the best French players in the country (their stated ambition is to develop or buy the best young French talent). And ‘newer’ clubs, ‘newer’ as in newer to the Top 14 and non-Heineken cup playing clubs like Toulon, and Racing-Metro, who have a number of non-French players, shall have a tougher time of it.

But then this seems to be a symptom of the difference between the French domestic set up and the UK one (and South Africa and New Zealand for that matter). With the lack of salary cap and less stringent tax laws in France, there has certainly been a large influx of foreign players into the country.

Great weather, a strong Euro, and a flourishing rugby culture are just a few things that help that transition and so this then becomes a problem in some areas when people feel that foreign internationals are stunting the growth of young French talent as a result. Thus we see the institution of the quotas, which I have to admit I do agree with.

Of course in a country such as England, with clubs being privately owned as in France, a few of the same issues arise, but the lure of the English market has proven less powerful than that of the French for the time being.


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Ross, who’s played for the Stormers and the Barbarians, has a really interesting website that features plenty of behind the scenes photos, podcasts, and latest news on life with Toulon.

We’ll hear back from him soon, but until then, check out



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