Le Johnny Show-Bizz?

Johnny Sexton has reportedly been offered megabucks to join Racing Metro.  By all accounts it’s a serious offer and the club has plans to become a European force over the next two-to-three seasons.  They’ve signed up Castres’ highly-rated coaching ticket for next year, and have identified Johnny as the man they need to conquer Europe.

The IRFU have, apparently, been slow to respond, which on the face of it, is remarkable.  Sexton is now firmly established as the nation’s premier 10, and it appears a fait accomplis that he will be the starting Lions fly-half.  There is a legitimate argument that he is the outstanding player in the country, having surpassed O’Driscoll and O’Connell, both of whose recent impact has been limited by injury.

While nothing has been signed yet, the whole affair does bring to light the glaring flaw in centralised contracting.  The system whereby the top players are centrally controlled by the IRFU has, in general, been a success, with the players’ match time controlled appropriately.  But the other side of the coin is that the provinces’ needs come a distant second.

While the IRFU in general puts a lot of stock in having the players under their control, they might be somewhat agnostic about Sexton leaving for Paris.  For a start, playing in France is no longer the flog-athon it was once perceived as, and the big Top 14 contenders now have large enough squads to rest their better players.  Juan Martin Hernandez and Winiewski are both on Racing’s books, so Johnny 10 can comfortably be rotated out of the team as and when the coaches see fit.  Matching Racing’s offer is presumably out of the question, but even without doing so, the IRFU would seemingly have to offer terms that would establish Sexton as the best paid player in the country in order to keep him in Ireland.  It wouldn’t be undeserved, but perhaps they’re not that keen on the idea.  They’ll still have access to Johnny for internationals, and his standing is such that he’ll continue to be picked wherever he plays.  And his leaving Leinster would pave the way for Ian Madigan – potentially his understudy at test level next season, but possibly a bit of a headache for the IRFU while on the bench at Leinster – to flourish at his home province.  Indeed, Madigan would probably be the biggest beneficiary of all this.

The team with the most to lose by Johnny setting sail are Leinster.  Before Joe Schmidt even signed on at the province, he identified Sexton as the most important player at the club – it was he and Leo Cullen that Schmidt met for a chat to discuss his vision for Leinster rugby, and the Kiwi has built the team around Sexton’s regal attacking game.  But Leinster can only sit idly by while the IRFU crunch the numbers.  They can do nothing tangible to keep him at the club.  It points to a schism in the system.

As Peter O’Reilly discussed so eloquently in the Sunday Times, Sexton is one of the icons of Irish rugby, particularly in his home province.  Among Leinster fans, he has come to embody the new winning culture at the province, with his arrival as a first team player coinciding exactly with the beginning of Leinster’s dominance.  His rise to the top has been especially hard-won; the manner in which he has had to overcome adversity to get to where he is today, and had to claw the Irish 10 shirt off the back of a legend, have made him an especially adored player on the terraces of the RDS.

As for Johnny himself, nobody would begrudge him a couple of seasons on a colossal salary in the splendour of Paris.  He owes Leinster nothing, having steered them to three Heineken Cups.  The timing could probably never be better.  The Lions tour will be out of the way and he could return in time for the World Cup in 2015.  But for those who have watched him develop from a skinny-limbed youngster on his debut in Thomond Park to the world-class leader he is today, it would be difficult to watch him play in another team’s colours.  The IRFU should do what they can to tie down one of their greatest assets.

*The title is a reference to Racing Metro’s 1980s backline, which was famous for its flair and eccentricity, and became known as Le Show-Bizz.  Read more about the club’s colourful history here.

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70 Comments

  1. Connachtexile

     /  January 15, 2013

    Probably going to get killed for this but it might to be a bad thing if he goes. It will give Madigan more gametime as well as responsibility as well as taking a huge chunk off the IRFU payroll. Yes it sucks for Leinster but I honestly think Madigan has the skill-set to replace him. He might never reach his level but as outhalf’s go he’s better than most of the top ones playing to Europe at the moment.

    • Connachtexile

       /  January 15, 2013

      Meant to say might NOT be a bad thing!

    • Apologies if I come over like a fanboy on this one, but as a Leinster fan (this is Palla by the way) it’s hard to view things so objectively. It’s the equivalent (in terms of the player, if not the situation, if you get me) for Leinster fans of Mike McCarthy leaving Connacht, about which Connacht fans were pretty upset.

      • In the short term, it would hurt for sure. Quite apart from losing a player of his quality, losing such a central voice to the team – at a time when we will lose the older leaders (BOD, Cullen, Jennings) – will be a major blow: no doubt about it. I really like the cut of Madigan’s jib though, and would like to think he could step up after a season as the main man. The more I think of it, the more I think Madigan has to leave if Johnny stays.

        • While you’re not wrong about Madigan, I would be wary of putting the cart before the horse. You don’t clear out a great player in his playing prime to make way for one who isn’t as good. That just makes no sense to me.

      • Maybe just wishful thinking. There is no doubt that Johnny would leave a huge hole that would not be filled in one season…unless we sign Dan Carter 😉

  2. montigol

     /  January 15, 2013

    Just to click into auto-pedant mode, it wasn’t a Racing Metro backline in the 1980’s, just a pre-merger Racing Club backline 😉

    I would be extremely surprised if this happened. Would seem to me like O’Driscoll’s appearance in France functioned more to force the hand of IRFU than anything else, and slow as they might act, they will offer him the big contract, assuming they don’t allocate too much of their budget dishing out beefy contracts to players winding down their international careers.

    • Thanks for the correction, you’re quite right of course. We thought the same up until this morning, but Thornley appears to have an inside line judging by today’s piece, and it would appear the Racing offer is very much under consideration. Of course, we fully expect the IRFU to try to keep him in Ireland, and nothing is cut and dried as of now.

      • montigol

         /  January 15, 2013

        Does GT really have an inside track or is he just translating articles from Midi Olympique? Has he got some inside scoop from Platinum One? Is that the suggestion here?

  3. RedLigind

     /  January 15, 2013

    I am asking this in a inquisitive manner in case it sounds like I am standing up for the blazers in Dublin 4, but what exactly can the IRFU do? Is it not a tad dangerous to try and meet Racing’s demands and pay him something in that ballpark? I personally think it’s a storm in a teacup, Sexton will stay. He’s not motivated by money, his fiancee just got a job as a teacher and he recently bought his first house.
    Furthermore going to Racing would be financially bad in the long term. He still will bag around €500,000 a year in Ireland with his contract probably three-four years long. After that contract ends, his next will command a starting salary in the region of €350,000 for another two-three years. If he goes to Racing he wins in the short term with the high payout (€750,000), but if and when he decides to return he will be looking at a substantially reduced package from any province. Madigan will be first-choice at home, wheras Ulster (Jackson) and Munster (Hanrahan/Keatley) won’t break the bank to sign him. Leinster in some respect will be only able to offer him a lesser package and given he’ll be 31 at that time they won’t need to get a loan out to resign him.
    He’ll stay as it makes sense financially and personally.

    • Lots of good points RedLigind, though I think you’re undervaluing Sexton a little there. Madigan, Jackson, Hanrahan and Keatley are good and all, but the idea that none of the provinces would be all that keen on a 29/30-year old (he’s 27 now) returning Johnny Sexton in two years time is pretty fanciful. There are absolutely no guarantees any of the four will mature to be as good as Sexton, promising as they may be.

      Can the IRFU do more? Well, here’s what Thornley wrote today:

      Sexton is out of contract at the end of the season and there is disappointment within the Sexton camp that the negotiations over a new contract were not initiated until late November, after the Guinness Series, and that the union’s original offer was reputedly no greater than the two-year deal he signed before last season.

      So I’d argue they can.

      Link if you want to read further:

      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2013/0115/1224328850601.html

      • Ben

         /  January 15, 2013

        But who is the likely source for all this? The player’s agent who has a track record of this type of negotitation. The same agent who let Luke Fitz down. Whose interest is best served by brinkmanship in the contract negotiations? I’d say the player or rather his agent.

      • Tommy Kennedy

         /  January 15, 2013

        You and Red Ligind seem to assume it is only money driven. I think this couldbe very wrong.

  4. Ah lads you’re buying the hype again. More negotiating through the press by Fintan Drury.
    To be fair to the IRFU they never comment on player contracts and rightly so – it is a private matter.

    Leinster’s hands are not tied they are part of the IRFU – you seem to forget that. They could not afford Sexton if they had to find the money on their own. It would be goodbye Isa if they did.

    Sexton seems to be his own man and well capable of deciding what to do and he is leaving his agent to get the best deal he can. Fair enough. The IRFU have to do the same but they can’t break the bank either. Irish Rugby is bigger than one player and let’s face it Sexton would still be in the Ireland team if he was playing in Paris.

    Sexton has won two Heineken Cups and nailed down the national slot. The question for him is does he stay and make Leinster build around him or does he fancy a change of scenery and a different challenge?

    Equally while the money from France is huge one wonders what affect living in Paris would have on his personal deals – O2, VW etc who might not find him as attractive a prospect if they have to fly him from France for gigs.

    P.S. Are you really Liquids in disguise?

  5. Chogan

     /  January 15, 2013

    Once you remove one, this house of cards will crumble.

    This is the most important signing the IRFU have to make.
    The rabo is weakening thanks to player drains in Wales and Scotland. Ireland following suit will remove whatever sponsorship money there is cutting revenues and therefore seeing more and more players leave.

    Can anyone explain why Leinster are not allowed to top up Sexton’s deal?
    €400,000/€500,000 (IRFU) + €100,000/€150,000 (Leinster) is one way of closing the gap to the rumored €800,000 from Racing.

    To state the obvious. We are not NZ or SA. It is relatively east to move to France when comparing Ireland to the Southern Hemisphere and our talent pool is tiny.

    • Chogan

       /  January 15, 2013

      *east should read easy

      • Watching from Sydney

         /  January 17, 2013

        However “it is relatively east to move to France” from Ireland, so technically correct

  6. Jimbob

     /  January 15, 2013

    Agree that Madigan will be the main beneficiary of Sex-time leaving. He’ll have the opportunity to learn consistent game management and control to go with his amazing attacking skills. If he can do this and Keatley usurps the 10 shirt from ROG, there’s a possibility that Ireland will have four very talented outhalves to choose from.
    Saying all this, I still dont want Jonny to go, he’s the fulcrum of the team and is the first person we look to to take a game by the scruff of the neck and do what he wants with it. In my opinion he is now the 2nd best 10 in the world and would be a huge loss to Leinster.

  7. GT does seem to have an inside line. It is a helluvalotta money. So, on that front, it would be tough to turn it down. But:

    – Why Racing? Regardless of who Racing have just signed, they still have a longstanding record as a flakey club. They haven’t really challenged for anything since the 1980s. If it were one of the big clubs (Clermont or Toulouse being the obvious ones, also Toulon or Biarritz – Stade just signed Steyn), then he would be mad to say no.

    – Why now? Two years out from an RWC is not the best time I would have thought – from an Ireland or Jonny perspective. Just after the RWC – at 29 – he will be able to negotiate even better terms and not impact on RWC preparations.

    I would share the opinion of Connachtexile that it may not be the worst thing in the world for Leinster. Madigan is great and will have to leave if he cannot make the step up. He needs to be allowed to make the step up to complete his development. If he does, he is clearly the most talented 10 in Ireland after Johnny (at the moment, Jackson is the heir apparent as he is playing HCup).

    More interesting is the news that Mike Ross has been offered a worse contract than the one he is on! As we all know, tighthead is one of the linchpin positions and one of the highest paid in pro rugby. Mike Ross is clearly the only international-level tighthead in Ireland at present (all others are works in progress). The IRFU and Kidney have really treated him shockingly after all he has done for Ireland and Leinster over the past 3 seasons. I would expect someone to offer him something in France for sure.

    • Jack E

       /  January 15, 2013

      The treatment of Ross in the context of our ongoing propping crisis stinks of something more than just negotiating tactic, just as the press treatment he got in AI’s.

      • Ben

         /  January 15, 2013

        And who are the ones talking about his contract? The same press. So who benefits from the story? Ross? No, IRFU? No. Press? Yes.

  8. There are two temptations here….one is to dismiss it as a typical agent negotiating tactic and the other is to herald it as the start of the dam breaking. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Yes Jonny has won THREE Heineken Cups with Leinster and “owes us nothing” but equally he is the heartbeat of the team along with Leo, Jenno and Jamie (I share WOC’s memories of his early years…which were tough and often painful). My guess is that his preference would be to stay. Having said that, BOD recently mused about how maybe he should have had a stint in T14 or S15 so it’s easy to see the attraction. It’s not all about money in terms of staying but equally it’s not just about the money if it comes to going, there’s an adventure and a challenge for a guy at the top of his game who has achieved a lot. I think this one is firmly in the balance and my guess is that it won’t be the cash that decides it! For the IRFU, to lose their top player would demonstrate to French clubs that Irish players are as poachable as Welsh players. To those who think it would good for Leinster to lose J10 when Leo, BOD and maybe even Jenno are in the twilight of their careers… I guess you must be Madser’s agent!

    • Excellent post Leinster68, thank you for that. Among many excellent points, your last one is most pertinent – that Leinster are about to lose a handful of key players to retirement and will be embarking on something of a transitionl phase. We’ve all seen what’s happened at Munster when the age and experience gap between those retiring and those taking their places was too great. In those circumstances it’s the 25-29 year old age group that become pivotal in taking up the leadership reigns. Sexton is right in the middle of that and is already a team leder. He would be a massive part in bringing on the likes of O’Malley, Dave Kearney etc.

      Madigan would indeed be deserving of a chance to step into the first team, but I would agree with you in urging people to curb their enthusiasm. He’s still a very rough diamond, and the transition would be far from seamless (as it was with Sexton). He has talent in abundance, but there are no guarantees that increased playing time means he would automatically ‘learn game management’ or become the type of player that can dominate big games like Sexton does. Plenty of good players just don’t obtain that skill. Look at James Hook – a player with a similarly deep well of natural ability, but one who has never quite learned the art of controlling a game.

      • Yossarian

         /  January 15, 2013

        There was an article in one of the papers about “transitional” phases and that if you are in “transition” there has probably been an error in the natural succession of your side.Kearney seemlessly took over from Dempsey, Luke from Hickie etc.(munster on the other hand persisted with ageing players on their bench to the detriment of emerging talent and look where they are but thats a whole other story)to suggest Leinster would be playing a must win H-Cup game with the BOD on the bench a few years ago would have seemed impossible a few years ago,(or even that Ruddock could step in for SOB last minute and we still score 5 tries.)I am a big Madigan fan but if we lose johnny like this there is no natural succession and it will leave a massive gap in skills and leadership. Leinster are about to lose a lot of key leaders to retirement so to that extent there will be a “transitional” phase in terms of leadership if not in onfield playing ability.I would have thought sexton would have had a big role in managing that transition along with players like heaslip,mcgloughlin and kearney until new leaders emerge.really hoping its just a negotiation ploy on his part as Leinster and Ireland will suffer if he goes.

    • Why Racing though? Surely, Sexton could have his pick of most T14 and even some S15 sides. Why go to a bit-part, half-assed outfit like Racing that cannot get its act together. Money is the only argument at this point – and it is a lot of money. However, he could not play the career legacy card.

      • I’m going to once again defer to Gerry’s article today for that one. It appears that other French clubs expressed an interest but have not followed it up, as they see themselves acting only as a tool with which Sexton can lever up his terms. So it appears Racing’s is the only serious offer.

        No doubt Racing would have to sell themselves to Sexton (they’re 9th in the Top 14, so will they even be in the H-Cup next season?) but they are nothing if not ambitious, and have some serious wonga behind them. They’re developing a new ground, have hired Castres’ highly regarded coaches for next year and have signed other high profile players for next year too. Whether they succees or not remains to be seen, but they appear to mean business.

      • Leinster68

         /  January 15, 2013

        I agree re the relative merits of Racing when compared to ASM or Toulouse but my guess is that both of those clubs are fearful of being involved in a dutch auction that will prove to be pointless. For J10, I guess it would be an easier decision if it was either of those clubs and if he is serious about a move I’d imagine that some serious vision painting will need to be done by Racing. One thing you can be sure of is that if Racing do sign him, both ASM and Toulouse won’t be shy about chasing the likes of Healy, Jamie, Zebo etc…….

      • Yep. I am sure that is the spin…but I don’t buy it. No H Cup for Johnny next year as you point out. That is one year out of his two year contract…and no guarantee for the second year. Not a great fan base (although they have a good oompah band). I don’t know where the new stadium is planned but the current one is just off the Peripherique (the clubhouse is a tent). Paris is also not an easy place to live (so a tough lifestyle choice) – in contrast to one of the smaller southern towns. For those reasons, I can’t see it as a good lifestyle or career legacy choice from Sexton. If he takes it, there is only one reason and, as Nelly would say, “it must be the money”.

      • Leinster68

         /  January 15, 2013

        Apparently they are building a new stadium out by La Defense. I agree with most of what you say except about Paris… A great city for a couple of years!

  9. Did Peter O’Reilly’s article on Sunday not also mention reports came from France initially so it might not just be Sexton looking for a better deal from the IRFU? As ye said there is no real outstanding reason for him not to go.

  10. It would be a massive loss to Leinster rugby to lose Sexton, but I don’t think it would not be the end of the world. Several comments above and elsewhere point to Madigan as being a sort of ‘rough diamond’, I however don’t see this. His kicking game especially off the tee has improved radically improved this year and he has answered many of his critics in this regard who have been giving him slack for this for several years now. Couple this with his passing skills (arguably the best passer of the ball in the Northern hemisphere) and his try-scoring ability (six tries this year and counting) I see him as a more than apt replacement for the much loved Sexton and just the right time to throw him into the deep end.

    Sexton has already been a great servant of Leinster rugby and will always be associated with the good times that we have seen pass by, but there has been a feeling this year that there is a change of guard in a sense. The young players have been given more time and although this has impacted negatively on results it will be beneficial in the long run. It is now time for players like Ferg McFadden, Kearney and even the incoming McCarthy to take over the reign left by Leo, BOD and even Sexton- even though he is considerably younger than the previous mentioned Leinster legends. Another positive that would be seen from his departure to our French legion would be that it would free up funds and space for another signing or two. Obviously there is Noel Reid who can fill into the out-half position but he has been seen more as a centre in the last few months. Goodman is another who is supposed to be able to cover the pivotal 10 position but as of yet he is yet to be tested here, and to be honest it’s an insult to Sexton to begin to even compare the two.

    For the benefit of Irish rugby, by giving Madigan the run at being the number one 10 at Leinster, it can only bring on his game and who knows Sexton might even benefit from playing overseas and come back in a year or two an even better player. Those who risk, win.

    • I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make any sense to me. I’d see the logic as being entirely the other way round. It’s precisely because Leinster are having a changing of the guard that they would need to keep Sexton. In any transition period it’s vital there is a stream of players in the 25-29 bracket who can take over leadership from the older hands; the Cullens, O’Driscolls and Jennigses; and bring the younger players through. Sexton is exactly that player, a team leader in his prime – the others are forced retirements out of old age.

      Why would you ship out a world class player aged 27 with them? Because he is associated with ‘good times that have passed by’, i.e. winning three Heineken Cups? I can’t understand that. Munster have struggled because of the vacuum of players in that age group to replace the team leaders who retired.

      • Leinster68

         /  January 15, 2013

        100% Agree WOC…It takes time to build and transition teams and a solid core of key players in the 25-30 age is critical. Without the names you’ve listed and the likes of Darce and Isa (no idea what will happen there at this stage), Leinster without Sexton would look very callow.

      • Obviously Sexton is one of the mainstays in the Leinster team, and along with Kearney probably the most experienced of the bunch once the older fellas retire. The point I’am making about the prospect of Sexton leaving is that if he does go, unlike in other positions such as second row and prop, Leinster have a replacement who has proven already at outhalf that he could more than able fill the boots of Sexton if given the chance. Indeed Madigan could even turn into the player that Sexton has become, and then it will be looked upon as a shrewd piece of business on Leinster’s behalf…

        • I’d urge a little more conservatism on Madigan in this regard. It’s tempting to just think of his best games when he’s fizzing passes out the line in front of runners, but to say that he’s ‘already proven at outhalf’ is way, way premature. He has shown in certain games this season, such as the Connacht fiasco, that his game management can still be below par.

          He’s largely untested at Heineken Cup level – he has precisely one Heineken Cup start at fly half home to Montpellier. While his kicking off the tee has been a boon this season, his kicking out of hand is still very rough-and-ready. Can he be as good as Sexton? Maybe – it’s a heck of a level to get to. To say otherwise undervalues Sexton. You don’t clear out a world class player in his prime to make way for one who isn’t as good.

      • Bowe Gathers

         /  January 15, 2013

        Great post as ever WoC, and it’s good to be back in the swing of the season. It’s a shitty thing to call guys, but I think Curate’s Egg and yourselves (mainly Palla I suspect) aren’t entirely being objective about this. In a low blow I’m about to quote your own article about McCarthy –

        “First of all, Mike McCarthy is out of contract at the end of the season, so he is not bound to Connacht, and is entitled to move to any other team that chooses to offer terms – he’s a free agent. Secondly, he is (naturally) entitled to get the best deal for himself and his career…”

        I know. Poor form. Still, I think that those two statements apply to Le Johnny the II as much as McCarthy. Both are vital leaders in their squads, roughly 27 and are pretty nailed on for national success. Mike is as important for his club as Sexy is for Leinster, so where’s the difference? Metro seem serious in their intent to emulate the sugar daddy system which, let’s remember, wasn’t an overnight success in the T14 by any stretch. A two year stint in France could do him the world of good – see Le Johnny the first for proof. Also swapping the Liffey for the Seine may not prove the biggest lifestyle change for the southsiders among us.

        He won’t get HC rugby there, but the uncomfortable truth is it’ll take a miracle for Leinster to qualify this year and more of a struggle pending a Anglo-French reshuffle in following years. Yes he’s world class, but I fully believe iMads is better than PJ after seeing their head to head in Ravers before Christmas. You’re going to lose one or the other – why not take the risk? It won’t effect Ireland, it might not effect Leinster and from a green perspective it’s best to have 4 young Irish 10s operating at a high level in their clubs. Sorry boys, and to quote you again, I don’t expect Leinster fans to like it, but you may just have to lump it.

        (*ps I kinda think this is all meeja blether in any case, so more hot air from me – no surprises there.)

        • Thanks for commenting Bowe Gathers. I fully agree that the two statements from the McCarthy piece quote apply to Sexton; we’ve never suggested otherwise. The McCarthy piece looked at the issue of whether it was fair game for Leinster to offer him terms, because some felt it wasn’t. We argued it was. And so it is the case here – we’re not for a moment suggesting that Racing aren’t entitled to make an offer, or that Johnny is not entitled to get the best deal for himself. Indeed, the very thing we’re proposing is thet the IRFU make him the best offer they can.

          I don’t understand your third paragraph – Leinster are virtually guaranteed Heineken Cup rugby next season.

          As for the rest, I’d reiterate what we said earlier, and what Leinster68 has mentioned: that while Madigan is hugely promising, and likewise Jackson and Hanrahan, he is not in the same league as Sexton, nor is there any guarantee he ever will be. I fail to see how having four perfectly reasonable out halves playing for their country should be the aim, when the best – and the best by far – would be playing in a foreign country. If the IRFU are serious about wanting the best players to stay in the country – and they say they are – Sexton should be top of their list. From a rugby perspective – whatever about financially – everyone is better served by Sexton playing in Ireland, for Leinster.

      • Bowe, I think you are misunderstanding my posts/points. I think Sexton would be a huge loss for Leinster but that he should go if wants (he should get the best for himself and his career)…and if he deems the terms better.

        My point is more that I don’t see the terms as better – Racing are not a good club and will not win a Heineken Cup anytime soon (they won’t even be in it next year), so he would not be advancing his career. He would earn 50% more (gross) with them over 2 seasons as he could in Ireland (but pay a higher tax rate) but would his career have progressed? I would say no. If he went to a good club for more money (net) than he can get in Ireland, then bully to him. It would be a huge shame for Leinster.

        With McCarthy, he will earn more money and go to a club with a good chance of winning trophies. There is no like for like comparison.

      • Mike McCarthy is ‘roughly 27’ … he’s 31!

    • Bowe Gathers

       /  January 16, 2013

      Third para meant get out of the groups, which is unlikely to happen. I understand the idea that Racing are no Leinster, but it seems that they are making a serious fist of becoming a better team. The T14 is a tight competition (unlike the nominal Rabo) and is populated by teams better than the likes of Scarlets and even Exeter, who aren’t on a par with Leinster atm. Leinster are set to be on a downward trend (they’ve past their peak a la Munster 2008/9 and look where they are now, however 3 HCs in 4 years is some peak). Racing’s star is likely to rise, while Leinster have one way to go.

      To the idea that it’s bad for Irish rugby I just don’t agree. Ulster have been brave giving PJ the jersey, and I’d love to see Mads given the same opportunity. The only way that’ll happen at Leinster is if Johnny goes. Sexy may even become a better player with exposure to a different environment. Still think it’s highly unlikely he’s off and this’ll all be forgotten post 6n.

  11. Reblogged this on ItLooksGood,ItIsGood and commented:
    Interesting post on the Sexton to Racing situation…well worth the read

  12. Anonymous

     /  January 15, 2013

    I for one would be gutted if he left, but at the end of the day Sexton has to do what’s right for him professionally. On that note I would agree with some of the comments above that going to Racing while financially a good move mightn’t be best move on a professional level. The other and perhaps more worrying element in all this was expressed above by Chogan in that Sexton leaving could open trigger an exodus of Wild Geese proportions similar to what has and is happening at the Welsh Clubs. That would be bad news all round for the game in this country, the IRFU need to see the bigger picture in all this and ensure we keep the best talent here

  13. I for one would be gutted if he left, but at the end of the day Sexton has to do what’s right for him professionally. On that note I would agree with some of the comments above that going to Racing while financially a good move mightn’t be best move on a professional level. The other and perhaps more worrying element in all this was expressed above by Chogan in that Sexton leaving could open trigger an exodus of Wild Geese proportions similar to what has and is happening at the Welsh Clubs. That would be bad news all round for the game in this country, the IRFU need to see the bigger picture in all this and ensure we keep the best talent here

  14. jojo

     /  January 15, 2013

    One point sexton should consider is, if he leaves leinster and madigan becomes the choice 10, with more game time, more Hcup experience, there is the potential in 2 years he becomes the favoured 10. It would be a selfish reason to stay but by doin so he will be keeping his no . 1 rival for the irish 10 shirt out of contention. Because realistically , even if madigan was to leave, if it was to England or Connaught he would not be considered for the Irish 10 shirt as seriously as if he was Leinsters starting 10.

    Although, I could never see the likes of kidney picking madigan, probably would lob the 10 jersey on paddy wallace.

  15. Xyz

     /  January 15, 2013

    A real body blow for Leinster if he left but if GT is right about the lolly involved then the IRFU would be mental to try to match it. They should make the best offer they can afford to keep him at Leinster and if he thinks it is enough to offset the wrench of moving and the step away from the Heino then great and if not – then so be it.

    Irish rugby (especially in Ulster) is always going to be vulnerable to seeing marquee players poached like this. (At least for as long as the French have sugar-daddy money-bags involved in their game.) We can try to be cannier about locking players up for longer but that isn’t without its risks either.

    From a purely Irish perspective (ignoring Leinster’s angle) then this isn’t that big a problem. As has been high lighted above out half isn’t a problem position for us right now and we’d still have access to Sexton for the international windows (he just wouldn’t be wrapped in cotton wool the rest of the time). Mike Ross getting lured away though…. THAT could be a disaster.

    • Leinster68

       /  January 15, 2013

      Sorry but I can’t agree on the Ireland outhalf position. ROG is next in line behind Jonny (at least in Deccie’s book) and PJ, Madigan and IK have precious little HEC experience between them. Only PJ has played knock-out HEC and he struggled (albeit as a young outhalf). I’d go as far to say that it wouldn’t surprise me if Deccie picked Paddy Wallace on the bench for the Welsh match if ROG gets a ban (unlikely I think). I’m surprised by how flippant posters are about Sexton. He’s head and shoulders above any other outhalf in the country. It’s partly an age profile thing but equally he’s just a guy operating a level way above his domestic peers……I’ve set him up for a rubbish game on Saturday now!

      • I can’t help but agree. I think Sexton is being taken for granted a little. He’s considered by most commentators to be the world’s second best fly-half. The idea that Madigan will just slot in and reach a similar level through sufficient exposure is a bit of a stretch. As you say, for all the promise shown by the corp of pretenders, none have done enough to kick ROG off the Irish panel, whether we agree with that or not.

        I’d suggest folk watch the tape of Leinster’s second half against Northampton in the Heineken Cup Final and ask if any other player in the country could deliver a performance like that on such a stage.

      • Xyz

         /  January 15, 2013

        My point was that Sexton in Paris isn’t much different to Sexton in Dublin from an Irish perspective – our first choice 10 either way. Don’t know how ROG comes into it.

        I’m not being flippant. If Sexton goes I’ll be gutted as a Leinster fan. He is a superb player but I can’t imagine that Irish rugby can afford 750 bags for any one player.

      • I am not being flippant about Sexton anyway. I don’t think any outhalf in Ireland (or Europe) is close to him at the moment. I also acknowledge he is the backbone of the Leinster team. He would be a huge loss to Leinster and the club would not recover from it next season.

        My only two points are that (a) I cannot see this move being in Sexton’s best interest for rugby reasons (so I cannot see him moving to Racing) and (b) while Madigan is clearly nowhere near Sexton’s level (and not that important to Leinster yet), he is the second best 10 in Ireland, so the medium-term future for Leinster is not doom and gloom. If Sexton stays (which I as a Leinster fan sincerely hope will happen – and certainly I find it hard to believe he would go to Racing), I am now more convinced that Madigan has to go…and maybe he should be the one lining up a deal in France.

  16. A few people have commented on the little detail of Mike Ross being offered a pay-cut, which certainly merits discussion, as it’s not exactly off-topic. It’s a bit mad isn’t it? Coupled with the strange media exposure he got around the November series, there is something weird in the air surrounding Rosser. I don’t think he’s having an especially brilliant season, but his position as the Irish No.3 is as secure as ever, and he is utterly without a challenger. Whatever hopes there were for Michael Bent after a couple of decent cameos for Ireland have receded very deeply indeed since then. It’s hard to make any sense of it, besides a feeling that Ross doesn’t have ‘Good Face’ in the eyes of the powers that be.

    • Chogan

       /  January 15, 2013

      The mental load placed on bent was on the extreme side of things for a new player fresh off the plain. He has shown that he can do it for Ireland. He hasn’t had a break or preseason and has now already played over a 12 month season. I wouldn’t worry too much, just give it time.

      As for Mike. Bizarre.

      • Yossarian

         /  January 15, 2013

        Agree the Mike Ross situation seems totally bizarre. Have people such short memories they have forgotten last years six nations already?tight heads are among the highest paid in France(far more than they shell out for wingers) there is just so few quality ones internationally let alone Irish qualified. sometimes the IRFU foot dragging would drive you mad.tight-head and 10 are the cornerstones of all teams these days.

  17. You suggest in the main body that this situation points to a flaw in the central contract system for the provinces but it doesn’t really, or at least it is more than balanced by the fact that Leinster could never have afforded the squad they have amassed in recent years if it wasn’t for the central contracts. Yes this would be a big loss in the short term for Leinster if Sexy leaves but in the wider context central contracts have been a huge success for Leinster and Munster.

    • Having a flaw doesn’t mean that something doesn’t work, it means it’s imperfect. The central contracting system is a working system that has flaws, both in its design and its implementation. It’s not perfect, but it works to a greater or lesser extent [depending on your perspective].

  18. @Completebore

     /  January 15, 2013

    In this specific situation I think the IRFU have to try hard to keep Sexton – to allow a player of that quality to go would give off some very disturbing signals. And the outhalf situation isn’t as rosy for me as a lot of posters – Madigan gets better in people’s minds with every game he doesn’t play and PJ has taken a step-back in the last few weeks which I hope he pulls out of. After that its Radge, Keats and JJ. Its all potential and fading glory, not really the foundations you want to build on.
    But in theory I like the idea of good Irish players travelling abroad. There may be a danger of Irish rugby getting too insular – with the limits on foreign players the main variety comes from the coaches. The question is where we have the depth to allow it. And the IRFU squeamishness about calling up players from outside the provinces means that any player with international ambitions would have to think twice before packing the bags. Sexton is one of the few indispensible enough to get called up without reservation.
    And on a tangent – I’m always surprised at Sexton’s age. I always think he’s younger than he is, I gues it because he broke through fairly late on.

  19. Contraflow

     /  January 15, 2013

    What would be best for Leinster is a replication of the
    Dr Phil_JSex master and apprentice model whereby young whipper-snapper Iano “try time” Madser polishes JSex’s boots for another couple of years while soaking up Rugby gems and pearls hither and tither. JSex will then depart to the Riviera post WC to fortify his pension with a pot full of Gallic doubloons. Not so young “try time” Madser emerges from departed master’s shadow to be even better than his master every was.

    The above would see me remain happy and contented. The unfolding dream of blue destiny seamlessly rolls on wherein Leinster surpass Toulouse to establish themselves as the true Kings of Europe. Too much to ask for? I would say tis the least we should expect.

    • Contraflow

       /  January 15, 2013

      Typo *… master ever was.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  January 16, 2013

      In my mind I see it more as Madigan replicating Dan Carter taking over from Mehrtens/Spencer(Who combined make up JS). There was not outcry, but no one really knew what to expect until he literally ran through the Lions shredding vaunted reputations and propelling himself into the rugby stratosphere. Madigan is more then calbable, we just need a 12 alongside him to give him a smooth transition, replacing BOD and Darce is a far bigger ask then slotting Mads into the team.

  20. Rich

     /  January 16, 2013

    Yet another example of how we are a professional rugby nation run by amateurs. How has this been allowed to happen with no one opening discussions?? This typifies the entire running of our game at present – do the irfu actually do anything? We just plod along, helped out by the fact that we produce talented players, our governing body are joke.

    Sexton is the best player In the uk(apart from lion in waiting Tom croft) – and should have been taken aside, told how important he is, cuddled a bit longer, and given a new deal to take him to 30. Now we find ourselves in another self made mess, a coach who was given a contact which was too long and our best player being allowed to leave?? This is pathetic. And the treatment of mike Ross does not surprise me at all. The best scrummaging prop we have probably ever produced is being humiliated in public and what do we do? Absolutely nothing – as expected. Ross deserves a lot more, any other nation would wrap him in cotton wool – but us? Offer him a worse contract than he is on?

    Re sexton – I just don t get the Madigan thing!?? Sexton is top top class, up there with carter. Madigan comes on with 15 mins to go and takes over a team usually winning, there is no comparison here – mads in unproven and no amount of buts will change that.

  21. Mullser

     /  January 16, 2013

    Guys, The comments on Johnnys caliber are all spot on.
    Though the reasons for his proposed move to France cannot be entirely financial. if Johnny moves to France he will be hit with a 75% tax rate. Now, as bad Ireland’s tax rate is at the moment, I imagine whatever contract he wrangles out of the Irfu, he will probable still take home more cash if he stays at home. unless of course he lives in Brussels and commutes.
    Ill let someone else do the real figures on this. but doing the math in my head, he will take home 25% of 750k which is 187k. The irfu may be in a stronger bargaining position than you think.
    Also Does Johnny qualify for the tax free wind fall at the end of his career? that also could be a factor.
    This is a ruse, Johnny will wear the blue of leinster next year.

    • Would a rugby player live in the country long enough to be taxed? I don’t know how that works in France but it might be possible that he will not be living in one country long enough in any one year to pay tax at all.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  January 16, 2013

      The proposed wealth Tax is only on those living permanently in France with assets over 1.3 million, it was also recently declared unconstitutional.. So unless JS is planning on buying an apt overlooking the Champs Elysee I think he’ll be in the clear.
      Also French rugby clubs have a special deal that allows a large chunk of players salaries to go untaxed through various loopholes such as image rights being classed as an nontaxable portion of a players salary.
      In GT’s article on the matter he said the tax back would not make up for the extra money he’d make in France due to JS only having two years on his international contract.

  22. Seiko

     /  January 16, 2013

    It looks to me as if the IRFU are putting the international team back on top of the agenda – having Sexton being paid by Racing would save the IRFU a packet and would also allow Madigan to develop. If you are looking at it from the IRFU’s point of view, Sexton is blocking Madigan’s development. Sexton is still available to Ireland (and its probably easier and quicker to get to Dublin from Paris than it is to get to Dublin from Cork). As someone in demand, you can be sure that Sexton will be able to negotiate any extra time off that he wants to go to Ireland training camps.

    Similar situation for Mike Ross – he is blocking young THs from developing at Leinster. A similar situation that happened with John Hayes in Munster could happen again. As regards the reduced offer – hasn’t all players taken a paycut (including BOD & POC on their last contracts when they were fit and they have contributed a lot more to Irish rugby than Mike Ross)?

    • Yossarian

       /  January 16, 2013

      Is there the risk that if we let our top players leave (10 and TH) we go down an Arsenal road of selling our stars and trying to replace them with youngsters?or do we end up like the Welsh with an exodus? We couldn’t hope to be competitive under that kind of system and with that interest and the long term benefits would be lost. Bit extreme but we have prided ourselves of keeping our best talent playing here up till now.

  23. Jack E

     /  January 16, 2013

    Had the misfortune of seeing this on a forum. Do some people (and editors) have no shame. Not even funny or ironic…just bitter.
    http://limerickrugby.ie/news-2592/An-open-letter-to-Leinster-s-Jonathan-Sexton

  24. And thus ends a good thread and a good news story for the Irish hacks:

    Racing Metro President Pours Cold Water On Jonathan Sexton’s Rumoured Move To France – http://www.balls.ie/rugby/racing-metro-president-pours-cold-water-on-jonathan-sextons-rumoured-move-to-france/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter#sthash.6704mYwW.dpbs

  25. jojo

     /  January 18, 2013

    Jack E, thats a stupid piece. Im sure/hope it doesnt represent most munster fans.

    I reckon Racing metro president could have said that so that the IRFU gets false sense of security, reduce their pay offer and ultimately lose jonny. just a thought

    • TERMAGANT

       /  January 25, 2013

      hat tip to jojo.

      curate’s egg, you might want to polish that crystall ball…

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