Saturday, 3 May 2008

Short sighted

It's good to see that Newcastle Falcons are keeping up with the likes of the RFU and the IRB in terms of ludicrously stupid decision making. I'm referring of course to the news that they have decided to do without the services of England players Toby Flood and Mathew Tait, both of whom (along with young backrow prospect Ben Woods) will leave the club at the end of this season, despite having a year left on their contracts.

Unsurprisingly, Flood has been linked with Leicester, while Sale Sharks have snapped up Tait.

The logic of the decision was explained by club chairman Dave Thompson: "Having four of our first-choice back line away with England for so long this year, and the fact that they would miss half of our league games next season, has been a major consideration in the decision to allow both Toby and Mathew to move.

"The impact of four of our back line going out en-masse and then returning at various stages of the season has caused us certain difficulties....we are currently in advanced negotiations with two Super 14 players."

I know how the argument goes - why should we produce our own players when all they do is bugger off to play for England and leave us to struggle on without them? It's far better to have players who are available 100% of the time.

The likes of Leicester and Wasps seem to have managed pretty well though - and the new agreement with the RFU should see the clubs well compensated for producing England players - certainly well enough to be able to afford to build a big enough squad to cope with a few players being away on England duty. All this decision does is bring closer the time when England players are all properly centrally contracted to the RFU.

Having been brought up in the area I've had a bit of a soft spot for the Falcons and, despite their lack of tangible success, have been impressed with the emphasis they've put on developing young English talent in recent seasons.

This decision, however (which, to my mind, signals a change in policy to rely on foreign talent rather than develop their own), coupled with the decision earlier this season to sack John Fletcher (responsible for bringing through nearly all of that talent), means that I find myself really hoping that it all backfires on them and that relegation beckons next season.


Anonymous said...

Ludicrous article. Codswallop. Falcons are currently in the rebuilding stage, after Fletch made a balls of the present season. Relegation is not up for discussion next season.

Total Flanker said...

Rebuilding? By letting your best young players leave and recruiting mercenaries? OK.