Maro Itoje really seemed like a marquee participant for Saracens on Saturday, as they thrashed London rivals Harlequins – even when he isn’t going to be one, formally, for for much longer.The England lock is grappling with a profession quandary. Mail Sport’s unique story that he’s going through a 50 per cent pay reduce to remain at his present membership has ignited a polarised debate. Itoje is believed to be on a wage of £800,000 per 12 months at current, however it’s understood that he has been supplied a brand new deal price £400,000-£425,000 per 12 months, when his present contract expires on the finish of this season.That is because of dropping ‘marquee’ standing. Premiership golf equipment was allowed two such gamers every, who could possibly be paid from exterior the wage cap, however now they will solely have one. Saracens seem to have nominated Owen Farrell to stay in that exalted class, with related monetary advantages. Rumours in regards to the England captain switching to rugby league to play for Wigan – the place he was born and initially raised – had grown louder, however the union champions are decided to maintain him.Many individuals have responded with incredulity to this information, partly primarily based on the relative ages of the 2 Take a look at stalwarts who had been vying for one marquee slot. Itoje is 29, Farrell is 32. So the youthful man might have hoped to be backed, as somebody with an extended future – nominally – forward of him. As a substitute, Saracens appear to have prioritised their captain and first playmaker, which is hardly a surprising improvement. He has acquired a military of detractors, however Farrell is the membership king-pin. Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje (above) is grappling with a profession quandaryThis is the place it turns into sophisticated. All those that assume the RFU will merely make up the wages short-fall, with one in every of their shiny new ‘hybrid’ contracts, haven’t any clear grasp of simply how a lot the union are ready to throw round. They’re determined to stop an additional exodus of England gamers to France and past, however can the nationwide governing physique actually commit £400,000 per 12 months to the retention of 1 participant?That appears extremely unlikely, when the present system includes simply 10 per cent of that quantity being paid for every participant provided to the EPS (Elite Participant Squad). The RFU can’t threat implementing a divisive system which rewards some golf equipment much more than others, as it could be seen as an unfair safety of the established order.It’s an actual can-of-worms concern. Golf equipment might exploit the scenario by providing low-pay offers to these they know the union will transfer heaven and earth to maintain within the nation. And, by definition, will the likes of Farrell – and different marquee males – not obtain a hybrid contract, if their main function is to stop gamers from shifting overseas?Again to Itoje. If his satisfaction has been wounded, he might select to go to France or Japan. However first, it seems he intends to make some extent along with his performances. ‘Maro is again,’ stated Jamie George, after Saracens had taken Quins to the cleaners. ‘He’s again in an enormous means! He’s as pushed as he’s ever been. I don’t have sufficient superlatives for Maro Itoje. What a participant that man is! When he’s like that, it’s contagious.’ So he’s extremely valued, however cash talks. Over to the RFU… Saracens seem to have nominated fly-half Owen Farrell as their ‘marquee’ participant Galthie loses out in Dupont deal So, France want a brand new captain for the Six Nations, as a result of Antoine Dupont shall be operating round within the solar, in Vancouver and Los Angeles, practising Sevens, so he could be a part of France’s crew at their residence Olympics. A penny for Fabien Galthie’s ideas on this, given how determined the pinnacle coach of Les Bleus shall be to make amends for the latest World Cup disappointment (a quarter-final exit from their very own occasion) by reclaiming the championship title, if not a Grand Slam, early subsequent 12 months. It could make extra sense for Dupont to play in Sevens tournaments after the Six Nations, however that gained’t be tolerated by Toulouse – who need their Galactico on obligation – so that is clearly a compromise resolution. It should undoubtedly diminish the Six Nations although. Dupont is a chief box-office asset and the match gained’t be the identical with out him. France might determine to divert just a few different family names from XVs into their Sevens programme forward of the Video games in Paris this summer season, however none shall be missed by Galthie, his crew – and everybody else – as a lot as Dupont. France star Antoine Dupont will miss the Six Nations to practise Sevens forward of the OlympicsWelsh rugby hit by lack of playersWhen an unbiased assessment of the Welsh Rugby Union was revealed final week, all the main focus was on historic problems with bullying, sexism, racism, misogyny and homophobia, which rightly prompted condemnation, apologies and pledges to reform. However buried close to the top of the 134-page report had been some alarming observations about rugby’s standing in Wales. Whereas the panel spoke of how the nation was ‘dedicated to its nationwide sport’, considerations had been mirrored in regards to the rush to a regional system in 2003-04 which many individuals surveyed felt ‘broke the hyperlink between golf equipment and their group’. It was famous that even high golf equipment are struggling to place out aggressive groups, that 13 per cent of matches under skilled degree had been cancelled final 12 months – ‘largely on account of an absence of gamers’ – and that many colleges not fielded sixth-form groups. The report cited a ‘golden period’ for Welsh soccer and well being considerations as elements behind rugby’s obvious decline. Within the phrases of the panel: ‘Welsh persons are step by step re-evaluating their nationwide id.’ Right here’s hoping that oval-ball devotion is just not misplaced there. The game is just not doing sufficient to increase, so it might probably’t afford to lose the keenness of a standard heart-land.Weekend highlightsEmotional farewell: Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones acquired a becoming send-off on Saturday, because the 38-year-old made a last look for Toulon, earlier than retiring because the most-capped participant in historical past. The veteran of 170 Exams for his nation and the Lions was given a thunderous ovation at Stade Marcel Michelin – residence of Clermont Auvergne.Welcome again: Luke Cowan-Dickie was extraordinarily influential on his residence debut for Sale on Friday night time – as they beat a spirited Newcastle aspect 40-22. He has endured a gruelling restoration from main accidents, however the England hooker rapidly confirmed he nonetheless has lots to supply.Thrilling prospect: In the identical recreation in Salford, Sale’s teenage tighthead prop, Asher Opoku-Fordjour, adopted up his dazzling exploits for England Below 20s by having an attention grabbing affect off the bench; each in his robust scrummaging and a few elegant touches in open play. Some expertise.Shock return: Former French federation president and nationwide coach, Bernard Laporte, has been put in as director of rugby at struggling Montpellier. It’s fairly a stunning improvement, provided that he has a suspended ban from any involvement in rugby, after being discovered responsible of corruption.Final Phrase The outdated rotation system for excursions by the British Lions is not match for purposeNot earlier than time, the Lions have secured a cope with the Premiership, to make sure some co-operation forward of the subsequent tour, to Australia in 2025. English gamers shall be totally obtainable – on account of their league last being moved to an earlier date – so, only for a change, the entire marketing campaign gained’t be in jeopardy earlier than it has even begun. The Lions may even be recent and prepared. How novel. Sadly, their subsequent hosts are in disarray. After a board-room coup, the chairman who introduced again Eddie Jones for an ill-fated second stint – Hamish McLennan – has been ousted. Rugby Australia are in a monetary black gap, their Tremendous Rugby sides have been struggling for years and public curiosity is dwindling. The Wallabies had been a rabble on the World Cup. The Lions have a raft of provincial video games which could possibly be terrible mismatches, in opposition to insufficient opposition, in half-empty stadiums. The outdated rotation system between the three foremost southern-hemisphere nations is not match for function. Future excursions must be topic to a young course of. Possibly it’s time to think about letting the Lions unfastened in France – or take them to new territories, as oval-ball missionaries. If the entire sport needs to be moulded to their existence, as is the case, then the drained outdated format wants an pressing revamp.
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