The French are flashing the cash in a bid to lure Peter O’Mahony away from Munster according to a report on Tuesday’s Irish Times. They’re claiming that the Munster skipper has rejected an IRFU offer to remain on a national deal past 2019.
Contract renewal time always brings stories of conquerors from England and France arriving on these shores to pillage the best rugby players on the island. Leverage is an important part of the process and an agent’s eagerness to use the media in an effort to put pressure on the union is becoming a common weapon in the arsenal.
Their job is to get the best deal for their client, ideally on home soil. The reality is though that the IRFU cannot compete financially with the multimillionaire owners of clubs in France and England.
O’Mahony is in the middle of negotiations with the IRFU, the suggestion is from Gavin Cummiskey that one deal tabled by an unnamed Top 14 club is double what the IRFU are prepared to offer.
The policy (which is not a policy according to Joe Schmidt) is simple – leave Ireland, you won’t represent Ireland. To counter an individual's ability to earn the maximum possible remuneration for their services against their sense of patriotism is slightly perverse.
O’Mahony’s pride in playing for Munster, his love for representing Ireland, the traits that make him a great player and a role model to young players around the country should not negatively impact his ability to receive the best possible terms in what is becoming an increasingly short professional rugby career.
There is nothing wrong with taking the best available financial package on offer, O’Mahony is at the peak of his powers both on the pitch and thus his ability to broker a deal for his services.
Money will always come into play when you’re a man in demand, a move away wouldn’t take from the pride he shows when representing Munster, nor would it dampen his sheer will to win when he pulls on the green shirt.
With the current depth of the squad, exiling Marty Moore, Ian Madigan and Simon Zebo may not have been the most difficult call in the World.
Joe Schmidt cited protecting the provinces when making the decision to exclude players outside the IRFU system, claiming long term it will be of benefit to Irish rugby.
In reality, picking the best players available is the best way to benefit Irish rugby. If he is to go, O’Mahony, a natural leader, who is as important off the pitch as he is on it, could be the man to call their bluff.