The ERC’s Heineken Cup is the true pinnacle of international rugby professionalism we are told constantly. Where our very best players have been lured by (previously) favourable exchange rates and the new experience of ‘real knockout rugby’ ... yes, this was constantly held up before last year as an Achilles Heel-type problem the Southern Hemisphere teams faced.
Not so much lately: the Pound is no longer King, the Euro is basically knackered .. and oh, look, the Rugby World Cup is safe in New Zealand for FOUR MORE YEARS!
But I digress. I did a graphical representation a while back of where the players in our NZ Super 15 teams came from, and I also wondered how this sort of thing might look when applied to the top teams in England, France, Ireland and Wales. There’s no real surprises that each team takes the bulk of its players from their own domestic pool, but what is interesting is how rainbow-like some teams are (Sarries and Clermont) and how others blend only players from 2, 3 or 4 countries (Munster & Leinster).
Don't know if anyone has any thoughts on whether this means owners have deep pockets or good shopping talents ... its clear the ‘home grown’ players in these squads are also heavily represented in their respective nations’ Test Squads.
So, waddaya reckon? Please note there is some rough accounting and rounding here, and I left poor Gavin Henson in.