Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

The Road to Riches Weekend of 20th-21st January

Posted on 17 Jan 2024 13:47 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Ascot, Haydock and Taunton and on the all-weather at Lingfield and Wolverhampton
  • Football, Premier League matches
  • NFL, Divisional Round of the Play-Offs
  • Rugby Union, European Champions Cup Rugby Pool Matches
  • Cricket, England’s test series in India starts next week.
  • Golf, the Farmers Insurance Open on the USPGA and the Ras Al Khaimah Championship on the DP World Tour
  • Tennis, the Australian Open

Free Tip

Investec Champions Cup Pool 4 Sale v La Rochelle Sunday 1pm

This weekend sees the final round of pool matches, ahead of the Six Nations and with the last sixteen and the start of the knockout stages in April.

It’s been a strange competition this year, particularly for the form of the French sides which has been very mixed. Whilst Toulouse and Bordeaux have been hugely impressive, Bordeaux’s 55 points against Saracens last weekend was a sensational performance other teams such as Racing, Stade, Lyon, Bayonne and holders La Rochelle have struggled at times and in some cases motivation has clearly been a factor with far from first choice team selections for many away matches.

The competition format has attracted a lot of grumbles, notably the disadvantage of some sides having to travel to South Africa for matches then turn round and play at home six days later, whilst others haven’t had that travel at all. Meanwhile the South African sides have often sent B teams to Europe, unsurprisingly when often faced with a home tie just six days later.

Anyway, we are now at the business end of the four pools, where four of six teams go through from each.

Pool 4, the “Pool of Death” this year featuring Leinster and La Rochelle, now sees a straight shoot-out for the fourth qualifying spot between Sale and La Rochelle.

La Rochelle, defending champions and winners for the last two years and favourites to do the treble before the competition started began with a 16-9 home loss to Leinster and went down narrowly to the Stormers in Cape Town 21-20. These results mirrored what has been an inconsistent season domestically too, only 8th in the Top 14 with six wins and six losses so far.

Right up against it and needing to win their last two Pool matches to qualify they then routed Leicester 45-12 last Sunday and are now in a position to win and in this weekend in Manchester. Under Irish coach Ronan O’Gara La Rochelle are a fearsome prospect when on song, with a big pack headlined by Skelton and Alldritt and huge fitness helping their “keep the ball alive” mantra.

Going to Sale sees them visit another side in more mixed form this season compared to last. Last season they finished runners-up to Saracens, this year they are fifth in the Premiership with 7 wins from 11 matches. In the Champions Cup they have one win, 28-5 at home to Stade Francais but had a rough draw of away ties, where they lost 37-27 to Leinster and 31-24 to the Stormers last weekend.

Without the injured George Ford and Tom Curry, Sale are still a competitive well drilled outfit, but I doubt they can live with La Rochelle even at home.

11 points La Rochelle -6 at 10/11 widely available.


Racing to France

The misunderstood Owen Farrell, hounded out of International rugby for his mental well-being because of abuse from supporters will no longer be committed to playing in domestic rugby to ensure he is available for selection for the national team. With the financial rewards under the English and French salary caps very different, its not a surprise that Racing92 in Paris and Head Coach Stuart Lancaster would like him to move. Should Farrell in the near future sign a two year deal with Racing, he’d be absent from the England side until at least 2026.

Under the RFU’s current rules, the England coach is unable to call up players playing abroad, which in this era of player movement and differing salary caps is hugely anachronistic. It is a policy borne out of a negative mindset and all about defending the domestic game. That Farrell aside a huge talent like Henry Arundell has moved to France despite the edict shows how ludicrous it is.

That Farrell is likely to be headed to Racing92 isn’t s surprise. They are glamorous and pay top whack. There is an old link between the Farrell family and Lancaster. Despite the playing budget and attracting such superstars as Kolisi and until recently Finn Russell, Racing have only won the French Top 14 six times in their history and once since the current chairman took over 19 years ago. They’ve reached three European Cup finals, losing them all.

The salary cap in France is £9.3m per club. If clubs then provide international players for France, they earn more than £200,000 per player for the season. In England, the salary cap now stands at less than £6m, which is one of the motivating factors behind the exodus of players to club rugby in France and Japan. Next season the salary cap rises to £6.4m per Premiership club, though few clubs are likely to be able to afford that much. Compensation in England for the loss of players, and they are often away for well over half of each club season, is relatively insignificant. French clubs are at a massive advantage through the funding they receive from their municipalities and regional authorities. In England, individual benefactors keep most of the clubs going but without hope of any reward on their “investment”.

Meanwhile Wales could be set to lose a promising young wing, following recent reports regarding the future of Mason Grady. The Cardiff player has been linked with four Premiership clubs, and could be on his way out of Wales when his contract expires this Summer. Should Grady leave Cardiff in favour of a move to England, he will rule himself out of future Wales test matches, due to agreements in place with the WRU. Welsh players with less than 25 test match appearances playing outside Wales are ineligible to play for Warren Gatland’s side.

With Welsh rugby in a parlous financial state the rule risks damaging the national side hugely, as many players are going to leave due to the rewards on offer elsewhere given the risks involved in a short career at the top level.

The argument goes that Wales has to retain a cap rule. Without it, virtually the entire Wales squad will be based outside the country, which would wreck Warren Gatland's preparation programme and the Welsh teams would have to pay overseas clubs for additional player release time. However it has to be in place alongside at least competitive wage offers, of which there is only a slim prospect.

This is why the 25-cap rule is going to have to go soon. Wales can’t expect their up and coming players to limit their earnings for the lure of a national jersey. It's akin to forcing Gareth Bale to have to have played for Cardiff or Swansea for the first three years of his International career.


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 13th-14th January

Posted on 10 Jan 2024 11:24 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Kempton, Warwick and Wetherby and on the all-weather at Chelmsford City and Wolverhampton.
  • Football, Premier League matches include Manchester United v Tottenham
  • -NFL, the start of the Play-Offs, Wild Card Weekend
  • Rugby Union, European Champions Cup Rugby Pool Matches
  • Golf, the American Express on the USPGA and the Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour
  • Tennis, the Australian Open

Free Tip

European Champions Cup Rugby Bordeaux-Begles v Saracens Pool 1 5.30pm Sunday

Bordeaux are one of the best funded teams in the French top 14, and thanks to recruitment in the off-season now field an all-international back-line featuring Lucu (Dupont’s understudy), Jalibert at 10, Moefana at 12, and first choice wingers Bielle-Biarrey and Penaud.

Well coached and incisive they at an exciting team to watch, currently second in the domestic league. They have won their last six games across all competitions averaging 34 points a game.

Saracens came into this competition in the top five in the betting, but that’s probably because of past performances rather than form this season, where they are currently 6th of 10 with five losses in their first eleven matches.

Such is the structure of the ERCC this season, with four teams from each pool making the knockout stages that Saracens are still a reasonable prospect to go deep in this competition but they are not the force that they were. Recent form is also troubling, having lost four of their last six games including in the Premiership to Sale, Northampton and Leicester.

Speculation that a talismanic figure at the club such as Owen Farrell is about to leave for Racing92 might be unsettling and is a measure of the difficulty the domestic game is going to have retaining talent with the relative financial strength of the French and English games.

Still for now Saracens can field a line up including Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Ben Earl, Farrell and Elliot Daly.

Bordeaux’s results so far in Europe are a 41-5 win away at Connacht in bad weather and a 36-17 home win against Bristol before Christmas. Saracens faced a tough task in the first match in the competition, travelling to altitude in South Africa and losing 27-16 to the Bulls before returning home and beating Connacht 55-36.

Understandably enough Bordeaux are strong favourites (2/5 outright) and -8 on the handicap but the weather forecast for Sunday in the area is for a lot of rain. Expecting a flair team to win by more than a score against gritty experienced opponents might be a bit optimistic. After all if it is a game of kicking and penalties, Farrell is going to go toe-to-toe with Jalibert.

Saracens +8 at 10/11 widely available


Changes

With legalised gambling in much of the USA now NFL teams that make  mistakes with the rules regarding the reporting of injuries can create separate problems for themselves and the league.

The first tangible example of a problem came this year from the $100,000 fine on the Atlanta Falcons and then-coach Arthur Smith for failing to disclose that running back Bijan Robinson was ill in Week 7. Though he played in the game, Robinson had limited snaps and only one touch. Concealing this of course had an impact on the game planning of their opponents the Buccaneers but also led prop bettors to believe Robinson was fine. His one-touch match created an outcry among those who might have gone in a different direction if they’d known Robinson was sick and who bet on Robinson to exceed the over/under for yards and touchdowns.

The league’s decision to fine the Falcons makes it a lot easier to establish liability for deliberate fraud or misrepresentation, intentional or negligent. The challenge in a case like this becomes putting together a damages award big enough to make the case worth a lawyer’s while. Person by person the amount lost is usually too small to worry about. Add it all up however, and the money becomes potentially significant.

The league has clear rules regarding injury disclosure. Bettors reasonably rely on the fact that the information is accurate. If it’s proven that the team hid the truth, it becomes much easier to show that fair compensation is owed to bettors who relied on it.

It would be very difficult at this point for the teams and the league to claim that they have no duty to the bettors. With the NFL earning revenue from every sports book sponsorship (just watch Red Zone on a Sunday night where US viewers are encouraged to place accumulators on Draft Kings sportsbook with suggested bets) it can get, it can’t claim that the general betting public shouldn’t rely on the accuracy of the injury reports especially since the NFL has never made any effort to add a “there’s a chance the teams are hiding injuries” disclaimer to the weekly injury information.


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 6th-7th January

Posted on 4 Jan 2024 08:52 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Newcastle, Sandown and Wincanton and on the all-weather at Kempton and Southwell
  • Football, the FA Cup third round.
  • -NFL, Week Eighteen, the final week of the regular season
  • Rugby Union, Gallagher Premiership matches
  • Golf, the Sony Open in Hawaii on the USPGA and the Dubai Invitational on the DP World Tour
  • Tennis, ATP Brisbane Open then Australian Open Qualifying

Free Tip

FA Cup Ante-Post ahead of the third round weekend

In the last decade nine of ten FA Cup winners have come from the top six teams, the exception being Leicester City in 2020. On a longer perspective only three of the last 25 winners have been non-top six sides, Portsmouth and Wigan being the other winners. In that 25 year period 10 of 25 runners-up have been from outside the top six in the market.

In the modern era all Premier League teams see the Cup as of secondary importance to Premier League position/prize money and will rotate their way through the competition should they progress deep into the latter stages.

Each year in this column I try to identify at least one team outside the top of the market in this competition before the third-round stage. Obviously some luck of the draw is required at each round. The best I have done so far is a losing semi-finalist (Southampton in 2020).

My short-list involves mid-table Premier League teams who are a)not also competing in Europe (the FA Cup will then become a third priority) or fighting to get into Europe or b) aren’t at serious relegation risk.

This time round I was tempted by Wolves and Everton (notionally on 26 points pre-deduction and likely to pull away from the bottom six in the second half of the season) but both have third round draws away at fellow Premier League clubs and Brighton, but they are still in Europe, a possibility too for the top six and too short at 16-1.

Each way terms in this market are half the odds 1,2. The market is, understandably enough, headed by Manchester City at 3-1, 10/1 bar the favourite and 16/1 bar the top six plus Newcastle.

In the end I alighted on Bournemouth at 66-1 over West Ham at 25/1. Bournemouth have QPR, in the bottom three of the Championship, away in the third round. In good recent form, with a goal-scorer in Solanke (hopefully he stays in the upcoming transfer window) for the latter stages if they get that far and obviously deeply unfashionable from a betting perspective compared to higher profile mid-table sides. I think they are speculative each-way value.

10 points each way (1/2 1,2) Bournemouth to win the FA Cup at 66/1 Bet365, Betfred, BetVictor, Coral/Ladbrokes.


Changes

As we reach the end of the NFL regular season change is afoot at a number of teams who are looking ahead to next season. Four Quarterback changes were made ahead of the Week 17 games and next week will see “Black Monday”, traditionally the day of coaching changes for teams looking to rebuild into next season and beyond.

The most high profile Quarterback change was at the Denver Broncos, with Russell Wilson benched. After a disastrous first season at the Broncos last year, Sean Payton arrived as Head coach at the beginning of this season. At first glance Wilson has been better as the Broncos recovered from a 1-5 start to be on the fringes of play-off contention in late season. Wilson is tied for sixth in the league in touchdowns with 26 but is 18th in passing yards and has only one 300-yard game this season. In the background though there have been clashes. The Broncos reportedly threatened to bench Wilson as early as October, if he didn't re-work his contract. The league and the players union reportedly got involved. Ultimately, it didn't keep him from being benched.

Payton values a Quarterback who executes the play called with rhythm and consistency. At this point, Wilson is best when he extends to create a second play and operates out of structure. Long term his style does not suit the offense Payton wants to run.

The trade with the Seahawks for Wilson will go down as a big mistake, involving three players going in the other direction, two first round and two second round draft picks. After the trade the Broncos then extended Wilson’s contract, which comes into effect at the end of the season and he now won’t play a snap under that new $242.6m deal. As part of that deal Wilson will make an additional $37m in guaranteed money if he can't pass a physical by early March 2024, it was that guarantee that the Broncos sought for Wilson to waive. An injury to Wilson in either of Denver's last two games of the season could have triggered that guarantee, hence he was benched.

The Broncos are on the hook for $39m guaranteed to Wilson in 2024 and $119m total in 2024 and 2025, a huge proportion of a $220m salary cap now to be tied up in “dead money”.

At least Denver hasn’t doubled down on its mistake and now moves on, possibly to drafting a young Quarterback, possibly to another veteran as a “bridge” or possibly both.

Wilson is likely to do a a one-year deal for the veteran minimum salary with a new team, forcing the Broncos to pay the balance and then re-sign in 2025 or hit the market again. Candidates his services could include the Raiders, Patriots, Steelers, Commanders, Falcons and Vikings. The Patriots and Commanders are likely to be in position to draft a potential franchise Quarterback and Wilson could help them along in the short term. The Raiders, Steelers, Falcons and Vikings are going to need a solution to their Quarterback issues most likely outside the draft.

Elsewhere in the league Lamar Jackson is currently favourite to be the 2023 MVP, drawing into focus the failure of quarterback-needy teams to not take a second look at him last off-season before he did a new deal with Baltimore.

In 2022, the Browns turned the NFL upside down by giving quarterback DeShaun Watson a five-year, $230m contract every penny of which was fully guaranteed at signing. Multiple owners publicly complained about Cleveland’s willingness to disrupt the way things had been done.

Come 2023, the Ravens dared the rest of the NFL to try to sign Jackson to an offer sheet by applying the non-exclusive franchise tag. Any team could have put on the table an offer that the Ravens would have been forced to match or lose their franchise player.

One team after another made it clear they weren’t interested in the man who is now poised to win his second MVP award. Jackson would have massively upgraded the Quarterback situation for multiple teams at the cost of two first round picks to acquire Jackson.

Those two first round draft picks are not an excessive price for a franchise Quarterback. For example the Browns gave up three first-round picks and three mid-round picks for Watson. The Panthers traded two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and receiver D.J. Moore for quarterback Bryce Young.

Anyone could have tried to acquire Lamar Jackson. No one wanted to do it. Because everyone wanted to be sure that the Watson contract would be an aberration, not a trend. The reality is that owners wanted to stop other owners from duplicating or expanding the practice of giving veteran players five-year fully-guaranteed contracts.

 


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 23rd-24th December

Posted on 21 Dec 2023 09:56 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Happy Christmas everyone. The column will be back for the first weekend of January.

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Ascot, Haydock and Newcastle and on the all-weather at Lingfield
  • Football, Premier League fixtures include Liverpool v Arsenal
  • -NFL, Week Sixteen.
  • Rugby Union, Gallagher Premiership matches

Free Tip

Gallagher Premiership Bath v Harlequins 3.05pm Saturday

After 2 rounds of the European Rugby Champions Cup the Premiership returns over the Christmas Period. These two sides sit 2nd and 3rd in the table after 8 rounds, both with 5 wins.

The first two rounds of the ERCC, within which both these sies are in Pool 2 have seen a surprising 75% overall win rate from English sides with vaunted French top 14 sides such as La Rochelle, Racing and Stade Francais winless to date. It’s been suggested that the folding of three English teams in the last 18 months (Wasps, Worcester and London Irish) and the incorporation of many from those squads into the remaining 10 top English teams has given the home sides strength in depth particularly with rotation the order of the day with the European games coming thick and fast. We’ll see how the remaining Pool rounds play out to see if this is borne out.

Bath are currently unbeaten in Europe, first beating Ulster 37-14 at home and following that up with a 39-32 win in Cardiff. For them, the competition take s a tougher turn in January with games against Racing 92 and a formidable looking Toulouse side.

Having languished in the domestic doldrums for a number of seasons investment in the playing squad under new owners has seen the club’s fortunes taking a big step forward with Finn Russell as the marquee player and the likes of Lawrence, Barbeary for England and Redpath for Scotland in the hunt for Six Nations selection.

Harlequins have had a tougher run of European fixtures to start off that campaign. They had a brilliant 31-28 win at Racing92 to begin the tournament before trying to match the Toulouse flair at home last weekend and getting well beaten 47-19. The first game saw Marcus Smith impressive in an open game, the second with Quins more on the back foot saw the defensive frailties exposed.

With both teams coming off a fortnight of tough games played at full strength squad rotation could be the order of the day here. The weather forecast is for dry weather which will suit Quins but they will need to add some solid nuts and bolts to their typical style, the type of which were absent against Toulouse in terms of defensive structure and kicking game. I think it will be a very close game, and I will take the visitors with the points.

11 points Harlequins +7 at 10/11 William Hill and +6 10/11 generally available


An offensive problem.

With three weeks to go of the NFL regular season half of the teams in the league are currently fielding back-up Quarterbacks, such is the injury attrition rate at the position this season.

This is a concern for teams off the field as well as on. Whether it is in ticket sales or television ratings, the numbers show by and large that fans do not want to watch backup quarterbacks.

I count 12 teams that have started two Quarterbacks this season, another 4 that have started three. The Browns and Vikings have needed four. Eighteen of Thirty-Two teams have had to turn to their backup.

On the field Offensive numbers are down this season compared to recently. Just taking two obvious measures. So far this season, and for the whole of 2022, 25 of the 32 NFL teams are averaging less than 25 points a game, compared to 17 in 2020 and 19 in 2021.

In terms of Total offensive yards per game, 22 teams so far to date average less than 350 yards per game compared to 19 last year, 17 in 2021 and only 12 in 2020.

There are various factors at play. Within a $200m+ salary cap, its tough to roster two starting quality Quarterbacks, especially for teams who have a franchise Quarterback on a non-rookie salary, the best of which are now in the region of $50m a year.

Secondly the college game has cylically produced a spate of talented defensive pass rushers in recent seasons (T.J Watt, Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa to name a few) and many teams prioritise having two strong edge rushers to pressure Quarterbacks and these players are fast and skilful.

Edge rushers have become smaller and slender and are fantastically athletic. In the NFL size is mattering less. This gives offensive lines a problem because broadly these players are still huge, relatively cumbersome and struggling to match the athleticism being shown at Edge.

There are structural reasons why offensive lines are struggling to perform well too. The 2011 (updated in 2021) collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the league put restrictions on padded practices, a shorter off-season calendar plus one less pre-season game, for health reasons. From February to Mid/Late April players can’t work with coaches and gone are the gruelling two-a-day practices that have long been a staple of training camps. In their place, teams are able to conduct one full-contact padded practice per day accompanied by a walkthrough period. The league has also placed limits on the number of full-contact padded practices during the regular season. Teams are permitted a total of 14 for the year with 11 of those practices conducted during the first 11 weeks of the season (a maximum of one per week).

This is what the players asked for, and it’s affected the overall quality of play. This was most notably seen in the early weeks of the season, with defenses dominating but has continued through the season. Offensive lines require synchronisation and togetherness and developing more cohesion at game speed would likely reduce injuries to Quarterbacks.

As well as these changes the college game, from which NFL players are drafted, is in an era of dominance for wide open spread offenses, where linemen are not required to make many of the blocks expected of them in the pro game. For example in many college teams, Quarterbacks are not required to line up under center. Now these players and their linemen enter the NFL relatively inexperienced and with teams unable to invest the time in training them to be ready for the NFL, All the reductions in practice time and contact have wreaked havoc on team’s ability to develop Offensive line depth, and that's made injuries a bigger issue.

There are two final points. The value for money for rookie contracts under the CBA, particularly the ability to have a fifth year option on first round draft picks has reduced the number of “average” veterans being offered second contracts. It is more financially efficient to draft a young replacement from a salary cap perspective. Secondly the league currently lacks a rookie development league, as NFL Europe once was, to give young/fringe players game time opportunities to develop. Perhaps that is one option the league will consider if these current trends of excess injuries and lower points/yards continue.

 


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 16th-17th December

Posted on 14 Dec 2023 09:35 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

  • Horse Racing, Over the jumps at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Hereford and on the all-weather at Newcastle and Wolverhampton
  • Football, Premier League fixtures include Liverpool v Manchester United
  • -NFL, Week Fifteen.
  • Rugby Union, European Rugby Champions Cup Pool matches
  • Cricket, West Indies v England T20 Match in Grenada on Saturday
  • Golf, on the DP World Tour the Mauritius Open this weekend.

Free Tip

European Champions Cup Pool D

Stormers v La Rochelle 1.30pm Saturday

Pool D is absolutely stacked containing Leinster, La Rochelle, the Stormers, Stade Francais, Leicester and Sale.

A reminder that the 24 teams are in four pools of 6 and 64 pool games eliminate just eight teams from the competition prior to the knockout stages beginning with a last 16. Each team plays four games in the pool, and do not play teams from their own country at this stage.

One of the issues for the tournament is the logistics around including the two South African teams who form part of the URC. This raised its head last weekend when the schedule gave the Stormers from Cape Town had to play in Leicester on Sunday, just six days before Round 2 and their match with two time defending Champions La Rochelle back at home.

Faced with this prospect the Stormers management appeared to prioritise their second match and faced Leicester with effectively a B team, minus their key players and current Springboks Jantjes, Libbock, Willemse, Malherbe, Roos and Fourie.

That they led Leicester 17-10 at half time with 58% possession highlighted an impressively competitive performance in a match they ultimately lost 35-26.

The Stormers have only won 3 of their 7 URC games this season, a disappointing start having won the tournament two years ago and been runners-up last year and reaching the Quarter-Finals of the European Champions Cup.

La Rochelle lost at home last weekend to Leinster in bad conditions, after 15 successive victories in the competition. That team now faces the challenge the Stormers had last weekend in reverse, a long trip to Cape town six days after a feisty very physical encounter at home albeit they have a relative advantage compared to going to play the Bulls in Pretoria at altitude rather than Cape Town’s sea level.

La Rochelle’s defeat to Leinster was consistent with their poor Top 14 form so far this season where they are currently 9th with only four wins from nine games. Against Leinster they were inaccurate and undisciplined, particularly poor in the line-out and lacked attacking incision.

The circumstances of the game are a big ask for La Rochelle and the Stormers are 4 point handicap favourites for the game.

11 points Stormers -4 @10/11 widely available


Giteau’s law.

Premiership rugby clubs have lost lose the ability to offer two players ‘marquee’ status. Premiership clubs were allowed two such players each, who could be paid from outside the salary cap, but now they can only have one due to the twin factors of financial pressures in the domestic game and a wish to continue competitive balance. Saracens are a club affected by the change of rules and have nominated Owen Farrell to remain in that category of player with associated financial benefits. The consequence is that the other marquee player Maro Itoje will be asked to play on a halved salary from the end of the season.

Presently, only England qualification rules for the national team prevent a large number of players seeking to play elsewhere and in particular France and Japan where the game has healthier finances, less restrictive salary caps. With France and Japan having the funding to afford a player such as Itoje, but the RFU rule requiring players to be based in the UK for national selection are a major issue for established England players.

Desperate to prevent a further exodus of England players to France and beyond, the RFU the national governing body is introducing hybrid contracts in which they part fund player contracts, but can they really commit £400,000 per year (the Itoje loss) to the retention of one player in these new hybrid contracts?

Ideally national teams should pick their best team irrespective of where they happen to play their rugby and the qualification rules are antiquated and possibly instead the market should be allowed to take its course but it’s a factor of different financial structures and funding in different national markets. The issue is about to be thrown into further relief with the news that Henry Arundell will stay at Racing 92 until 2026, having rejected a joint offer from Bath & the RFU meaning he is ineligible for the Six Nations.

The English Premiership clubs are struggling financially. They are in a constant fight for tightening sponsorship and broadcast rights amid competing sports and are dwarfed by football’s success. Anything that affects the sustainability of the English professional game risks its implosion. In turn, that compromises the sustainability of England’s international team. As 85% of the revenue of the RFU comes from Twickenham internationals, this would threaten the grassroots, women’s, schools and all other levels of rugby. The English premiership has already lost three clubs to administration and attendances are down across the board so far this season. Newcastle in particular are struggling on and off the field.

A relaxation of the qualification rule, along the lines of Giteau’s law in Australia, would not be unreasonable. In Australia a player can play abroad and still be selected for the national team after gaining a minimum of 30 Test caps and/or five seasons at Super Rugby level following legal challenge by the International player Matt Giteau a decade ago. The institution of a similar system in England, possibly at Australia’s previous level of 60 caps, under which Itoje would still qualify for England selection, might be the way to go.

 

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Results = points bet 34780 profit +1506.90 ROI +4.33% Full details here

Monthly subs are £50 a month and can be cancelled at any time. You can sign up here


Betting Emporium results

The detailed results page has been updated on 1st July 2023. They can be found by clicking RESULTS

If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £67,126 All bets have an ROI +3.05%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £71,176 a 1678% increase 

 

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