Money can’t buy loyalty

Win, lose, or draw it never used to matter what the result of a game was.  In France and the top 14 competition, it now seems to be win win win…. Or you’re fired!
This is what it seems like to me, especially after Jean-Pierre Elissalde’s brief reign as coach of struggling French Top 14 club Bayonne ended on Sunday 15th January.
He resigned, having presided over just three games- a 16-16 draw with Castres, a 30-15 defeat by Toulouse and a 27-20 loss to Bordeaux-Begles.
Just one look at Toulon for the 11/12 season and you will see an almost full change, with big names such a Wilkinson and Giteau attracted by the ridiculous sums of money being offered. 
Of course there is also the other side with players like Fotu Auelua getting the opportunity to play overseas.  Starting in humble beginnings in Australia playing for his local club and NSW country before he was picked up by Toulon and now we will be lucky to see him in action for the Brumbies this Super Rugby season.
And of course who could forget the Rugby League convert, Willie Mason being dropped from his contract for poor performance… After playing just 73 minutes this season.  Some would say just desserts, but really, after just 73 minutes??
So this really makes me wonder: can money buy loyalty? Or is it all a matter of he who has the most money, wins?

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  1. 1

    This was the very question raised by Cockerill after the Tigers has their “biggest loss ever”…not to a French moneyhouse, but to Ulster. Furthermore, in the knock out stages of the European Cup, there is only one French team. The rest don’t have the unlimited budgets, just pride and a grown culture.

    There is a lot of recent-enough business literature about how company culture, feeling “cared for”, and intrinsic rewards drive productivity and loyalty in employees. Money comes a distant second.

    Don’t see why this can’t be applied to sports teams too. People fight strongest for what they believe in, not for money. 🙂

    • 2

      Absolutely agree! Digby Ioane has been the latest example of a player staying with a team based on loyalty to the team and the coach. I believe those great coaches like Ewen McKenzie at the Reds invoke loyalty and we need more like him. It was so great to see Digby reject a huge deal from Japan to stay here in Oz. I just wish more players were like him.

  2. 3

    I think you will find there are plenty of players who put loyalty ahead of money. Any player in the Wallabies or All Blacks would have the opportunity to make significantly larger amounts of money in Japan or France but they choose to stay because they see the chance to represent their country as being something that money can’t replace.

    Also many player play overseas to experience a different culture and make new friends. This is one of the great things about rugby. You can go to different parts of the world and play the same game and have a completely different experience.

    The average career span of a pro rugby player is 5 years and they have to try and maximize their return during this phase of their life as in a lot of occasions they are not studying or training for life after rugby.
    As a rugby fan I get upset if players from the teams I support move on to other clubs/countries I also understand that they have to look after themselves and their families for the future.

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