Tuesday, 26 June 2007

the braun drain

With Rua Tipoki and Rico Gear the latest All Blacks to sign up to play out their remaining rugby days at an English club, rumblings from both sides of the globe continue apace about the plundering of southern hemisphere players by British and French rugby clubs who, even though often produce average and ordinary rugby styles, can lure with the big money.

Worries can be seen by both sides with the All Blacks' plummeting first fifteen stocks taking a nose dive as a main cause of concern for the future of their winning record. In England too, the induction of foreign imports into their club teams mean that with a bulky ex-All Black lumbering centre stage, there is no room for fresh local talent to rise through the ranks.

In this day and age it is normal for every New Zealander under the age of 35 with even a mild sense of adventure to get out of antipodean isolation and explore the big bad world. Add to this they are being offered the kind of money that the average Kiwi can only attain by winning lotto, and you have a no-brainer situation on why these players are tempted to leave and enjoy a different experience (not to mention a few warm ales in some of the finest country pubs in the world).

But New Zealand rugby (for now) is not the real loser in this situation. The British youngsters whose places are stolen by aging international players who have been paid the big money by these English clubs are the ones that miss out. And of course, the English rugby team. With the pig-headed English club bosses refusing to foster local talent or – when it is fostered – refusing to release their players for international duties, it is no small wonder England have fallen so dramatically from grace since their 2003 World cup winning campaign - just proving again that greed is not good and it certainly doesn't make for good rugby either.

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