It’s been long established that the wages on offer in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14 surpass those of leagues such as the PRO14 and Super Rugby.
As a result, we tend to see a number of high-profile departures of international talent to these leagues. There’s nothing wrong with players doing so. Rugby is becoming an increasingly shorter career due to the physical demands on players’ bodies, so you can’t blame those who wish to seek out a club which will benefit them more financially.
We have already seen this week that Munster’s Simon Zebo is set to move to France at the end of the current season, widely reported to be Racing 92. Aaron Cruden is another high-profile player who made the move recently when he joined Montpellier at the beginning of the season from the Chiefs.
Montpellier, of course, are backed by billionare owner, Mohed Altrad who has helped the club not only bring in the likes of Cruden this season, but also Louis Picamoles and Ruan Pienaar.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Mail on Sunday, Altrad revealed that Cruden joined the club despite a superior offer from Championship side, Bristol.
“I am not a prophet but rugby needs new people to disturb the existence,” Altrad says. “I will fight.
“We signed Aaron Cruden because he proved something with the All Blacks. We offered him €800,000 [£715,000] a year. His agent told me Bristol had offered more than €1million, yet he chose to join us.”
It’s interesting that according to Altrad, Bristol offered such an extraordinary sum for an out-half when they already have Ian Madigan on their books but as we know, Bristol are an ambitious club.
Altrad is certainly looking to shake things up in French rugby and it will be interesting to see how Montpellier fare in the Top 14 after such significant expenditure in the summer.
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