The BBC’s Tom English sent shock waves through Scottish rugby when he reported possible interest in Finn Russell from Toulon, Montpellier, Bath and Gloucester.
Although the fly-half’s contract will not expire until the summer of 2018, similar contractual obligations did not prevent David Denton from leaving Edinburgh for Bath one year prematurely. Flush with the cash the South Sydney Rabbitohs had just paid to buy out the remainder of Sam Burgess’ contract, the Premiership club made an offer the SRU simply could not turn down.
Racing 92 managed to attain Leone Nakarawa from the Glasgow Warriors using a not too different approach.
Nevertheless, while the SRU may have been enticed to sell both Denton and Nakarawa before their contracts had expired, luring Finn Russell away from Glasgow should prove to be an entirely different proposition.
The fly-half is regarded by many as a potential Lion and completely outplayed Dan Carter during both of Glasgow’s victories over Racing this season. Together with Stuart Hogg, Russell is the most marketable and talented player in Scotland at the moment.
While this makes a move unlikely, previous evidence suggests that the SRU are willing to deal if the price is right.
However Russell isn’t the only player who could conceivably leave Scotland next summer. Although the 24 year-old might be steal the headlines, the SRU face the very real prospect of losing some of their elite international players.
Although they may have tied Tommy Seymour, Peter Horne and Tim Swinson down on new contracts this week, the SRU have yet to agree extensions with Alex Dunbar, Mark Bennett, Josh Strauss, John Hardie, WP Nel and Hamish Watson.
In his article, English claimed the SRU would be unable to retain all of the above players, leaving open the very real prospect of at least one high profile departure this summer.
While they would remain available to Scotland while playing in the Premiership and Top 14, not being able to manage their training regimes or game time could have a detrimental effect on a nation with only two professional teams.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
On this week’s Oval Office Podcast we look at Leicester Tigers’ options and discuss Johnny Sexton’s potential Lions tour.