With rumours circulating today that David Pocock will be leaving the Force for the Brumbies next season, it has once again highlighted that the timing of these mid season contract negotiations are, politely put, less than ideal.
They are taking a toll, not only on the fans, but also the players and the ARU together with RUPA need to tackle this problem as soon as possible!
The story in the Sydney Morning Herald comes literally hours before Pocock captains the Wallabies in their first international test of the year against Scotland in Newcastle and let’s face it, I would prefer Pocock’s focus to be on what’s really important: Flogging the Scots!
Nobody could forget the debacle surrounding Will Genia’s contract negotiation in April and the upset that this caused fans on both sides of the fence. The storm on Twitter, and in fact all forms of media that weekend was deafening and ultimately swayed Genia into re-signing with the Reds. It has also left a bitter taste in the mouth of both Reds and Force fans.
Genia’s performance in the game following this farce was brilliant! Genia, who had been struggling with his performance, was suddenly playing like he had in the previous season, like a weight had been lifted! Something the Reds could have used earlier in the season.
Of course I could go on and talk about several other big signings in the past few years, James O’Connor, Kurtley Beale and more recently Scott Higginbotham to name a few but what I really want to look at is what I believe is a simple solution to this problem: The introduction of a ‘contract negotiation window’.
I have been talking about this on Twitter for some time now and think that the introduction of a ‘contract negotiation window’, whereby all negotiations/trades only take place during the allocated time, would be ideal.
Looking at the current rugby calendar, the most viable and less distracting time would be towards the end of the year in October, November and December. The Super Rugby season finishes in August and then the Rugby Championship begins and goes until mid October. This is usually followed by a Wallabies Spring Tour in the UK but as this is yet to be confirmed, we can say that the rugby season finishes after the final Bledisloe match on the 20th October.
This gives players and their managers enough time to negotiate their contracts with the clubs. This would also allow the clubs to negotiate accordingly and help keep themselves within the salary cap restrictions set in place by the ARU.
Of course, this time-frame makes it difficult for franchises to negotiate with Northern Hemisphere players as this is smack bang in the middle of their season in Europe, but to be honest, I don’t really care!
At this stage, it’s really only the Melbourne Rebels who have an exemption on the amount of foreign players in their side. If absolutely necessary, we can add an exemption on the ‘contract negotiation window’ that allows the Rebels to negotiate with foreign players until their concession expires in 2016.
ARU boss John O’Neill touched on this briefly after Genia and Higginbotham’s deals were made and O’Neill said regulation was being looked into.
“I haven’t had a good chat to (ARU HPU boss) Dave Nucifora but I’d like to think we could find a better and more defined way of handling the window, such that you avoid these sometimes not-very-edifying situations,” O’Neill said.
“It tends to happen in other codes as well but I can only say at this point we are looking at different models, and can hopefully come up with something – with RUPA’s agreement – that narrows down the destructive element of it.”
I’m sorry Mr O’Neill but just talking about it doesn’t cut it! It’s time for action and we need a contract negotiation window put in place NOW.
Administrators of Rugby in Australia seem to be forgetting the most important part of today’s game, the FAN!
WE are the ones who buy memberships, merchandise and tickets to Super Rugby and the Internationals.
WE are the ones who bleed rugby and follow our favourite player’s progress.
WE are the ones that keep the game alive in Australia.
Without us, you are playing in an empty stadium to the sound of crickets.
If you want to grow the game, especially in non-rugby states, you need to stop the mid-season signings! It drives fans away! IF the Pocock deal happens, I can only imagine how many of the new fans at the Force will leave never to return.
What do you think?