The French Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) announced today that they have signed a deal with Canal+ for a reported €355 million over the next five years to broadcast the Top 14 competition.
The LNR will receive €70 million for the first two seasons, €71 million in 2016/17 and €72 million for the final two years of the partnership.
This equates to almost double the previous revenue per annum into the French clubs’ coffers.
It would be about now that international coaches from the SANZAR nations will be spilling their coffee in disbelief as they open their laptops to read the latest rugby news.
By this evening Heyneke Meyer, Steve Hansen and Ewen McKenzie will be making frenzied calls to their bosses at HQ to arrange emergency meetings on how to counter the inevitable threat that will come to from Europe.
Even if the French Rugby Union action more stringent limitations on overseas quotas it will be of little consequence to the already enormous threat the French recruitment policies pose to the SANZAR partners.
The Argentinian Rugby Union will find their challenge to bring home their top players in the next few years to participate in the Super Rugby tournament met with increasingly more resistance from their players.
With the policies in place by the ARU and NZRU in regards to overseas players not being eligible to represent their national sides, it might open a can of worms whereby the lure of big money may enforce an overseas selection policy to be relaxed in the near future.
Super Rugby may be the premier competition in the southern hemisphere, but it is clear the attraction of seeing the best players in the French Top 14 is bringing in the big broadcasting bucks.
It the player drain continues, how will SANZAR manage to negotiate bigger broadcasting deals in future?
SANZAR is going to have to tread very smartly with their upcoming negotiations, player wages in the southern hemisphere will simply have to increase.
Otherwise the Super Rugby tournament may find themselves unsustainable and our players all scattered to the four corners of the universe.
Now might be the time to demand the IRB to institute transfer fees for the number of players potentially contracted in future.