Wages increase hoped to lure England stars home

Toby Flood
PREMIERSHIP rugby chiefs hope a rise in team’s salary caps by £500,000 per season can end the exodus of English players to foreign climes.

Potential England stars such as Steffon Armitage and Toby Flood are currently plying their trade in France and are consequently not eligible to play for the national team under its own rules.

Missing out on representing the Red Rose has not dissuaded players from departing the Premiership thus far, however.

But Premiership chief executive Mark McCafferty hopes the opportunity to offer higher wages to homegrown stars can convince the cream of England’s crop to remain on these shores.

“We are delighted to confirm the number of England-qualified players in Aviva Premiership rugby has passed 70 per cent for the first time, and we want to drive the numbers even higher,” said McCafferty. “The increase in the base level of the salary cap will help our clubs to retain English talent.”

The cap’s base level is set to rise from £5million to £5.1m, but there will also be an additional £400,000 made available in home-grown player credits. Each club will also be able to name two players whose salary’s are not included in the spending limit from next season.

And Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea believes such changes were inevitable.

“I think there is little alternative really,” he said. “Wages are accelerating all the time in France and Japan, and we want to keep home-grown players at home for as long as possible.

“These cap increases, yes they will allow us to improve squads, but they also won’t give you too much leeway to make huge amendments to your squad.

“Hopefully, it will allow us just to keep competitive.”