The French quota system is beginning to bite.
This summer could see Racing 92 release some established internationals according to Rugbyrama, as the quota system imposed by the French Rugby Federation begins to impact upon the Top 14.
In what could have been interpreted as a quintessentially French knee jerk reaction, four days after France’s 62-13 World Cup Quarter Final hammering at the hands of New Zealand, the French Rugby Federation introduced the Joueurs Issus des Filieres de Formation (JIFF) regulations.
The JIFF regulations determined that this season, French clubs must include at least 12 players in their match day squads who have either been registered with the FFR for at least five years before they turn 21, or have spent three seasons in an FFR approved club training centre between the ages of 16 and 21.
Although Mourad Boudjellal has labelled the regulations as racist, the FFR are determined to push on with the JIFF reforms in a bid to halt the slide of the French national team, and have even threatened to increase the quota to 16.
As a result, Top 14 clubs are having to reassess their squads, with Racing said to be letting seven players go this summer, only two of which are French.
The players in question are established internationals, Mike Phillips, Luke Charteris and Martin Castrogiovanni, alongside All Black Chris Masoe, Springbok Juandre Kruger and Les Bleus Alexandre Dumoulin and Yoan Audrin.
Although it could rightly be argued that each of the above players are past their peak, with the exception of the inform Charteris, it seems that Racing will not replace any of them this summer.
Instead, Fabian Metz will return from his loan spell at Oyonnax to bolster Racing’s options in the second row, while 18 year old Retière Arthur and 22 year old Xavier Chauveau are likely to replace Phillips at scrum half.
Indeed, Racing at are not the only club set to release a large number of players this summer, with Tolouse already beginning a clear out.
Even Toulon are beginning to look at signing French players, with Francois Trinh Duc set to join this summer and question marks surrounding the long term future of Quade Cooper.
Given the amount of money available to Premiership clubs, and the number of players who could potentially leave the Top 14 over the coming seasons, many could find themselves in England in the not too distant future.
While this could benefit the English club game, it could have a detrimental effect on the national team.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena