Why France is right to be concerned about rugby imports

sheek Roar Rookie

By sheek, sheek is a Roar Rookie

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    French rugby president Bernard Laporte has chosen his former national assistant Jacques Brunel as the new national coach despite his dismal record with Italy, and a fascinating article in Monday’s Australian entitled: ‘France appoints new coach and takes a stance on foreign occupation of top 14 clubs‘, shed some light on why.

    It’s interesting that France has had fewer coaches this century (four) than Australia, South Africa, England, Scotland and Wales, which have each had six apiece.

    The reason behind the sacking of former coach Guy Noves is the win-loss record of the French national side being in freefall. Under Noves Les Blues have won just seven of their last 21 tests.

    It wasn’t much better under legendary former national winger and captain Philippe Saint-André, who coached the team to just a 44 per cent win record. At the turn of the century Les Blues were winning more than six of every 10 tests.

    The penny, or the franc, has finally dropped for the French, who at last seem to understand that the overwhelming influx of overseas players is now critically affecting the performance of the national team.

    The flip side is the loss that the Springboks especially and the Wallabies to a lesser extent have suffered in their national teams, with so many players who are capable of either playing in the top 23 or competing to keep others honest going overseas and leaving a massive void in their home countries.

    Not only are South Africa and Australia deprived of quality players competing for the national team, but this loss directly affects their national competitions as well.

    I’ve been following rugby for 50 years, and while I grew up loving the expansive style of French backline play, which seemed to produce tricky, elusive backs at will, it was also apparent that they produced plenty of technically proficient, huge, brooding, snarling props and massive, raw-boned second rowers.

    Today so many of the top 14 clubs are apparently awash with Argentine and Georgian props, leaving only a small and diminishing pool in quality to compete for national Les Bleus selection.

    But this problem exists more or less in every position.

    Four clubs in the top 14 have lists of 42 to 43 players comprising more than 50 per cent foreigners, and there are apparently 257 foreign players amongst the 596 top 14 club players. That’s very close to almost half. Indeed one club, Oyonnax, could field an entire match day squad of foreigners, as could probably a few other clubs.

    Laporte intends to reduce the number of foreigners from match day squads down to just five. The billionaire club owners are feverishly haggling for seven.

    Laporte has apparently cleverly changed the rules. Now not only are clubs fined for not toeing the line regarding the import rule but they also lose competition points as well, which affects their bottom line much more deeply.

    It will be interesting to see if England bothers to follow suit. At present the England national team is riding the crest of the wave, so the motivation is not as strong at present for them to change. But in the not so distant past the influx of foreigners into Premiership Rugby has also hurt the development of the Red Roses.

    In an ideal world the movement of players from one country to another would be controlled for the benefit of everyone’s long-term interests. Those clamouring about ‘restraint of trade’ can go to the naughty corner.

    Unlike football, rugby has a finite pool of talent worldwide. If it’s not managed, a few countries will become very strong while the rest will become weak, lose interest and pursue other sports. Perhaps it’s better to be a smallish fish in a large pond than end up as a big fish in a small pond.

    If the ostentatiously named World Rugby can find the gumption to protect everyone’s interests rather than pander to the few, then a country like Australia could get back anywhere from upwards of 50 overseas players, which would help enormously in developing an eight-team national competition.

    With more quality players in each of these teams, it would then be more attractive to TV and other media interests to become involved.

    We can only dream and hope.

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    The Crowd Says (126)

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 5:56am
      Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 5:56am | ! Report

      A timely article, Sheek. The FFR made a big play of their intent to ‘save’ world rugby in their RWC2023 bid by reducing the flow of foreign players into their Top14 competition.

      At first glance, a reduction to five non-French qualified players would seem to approximate to Ireland’s low quotas for their big three provinces – Leinster, Munster & Ulster who are only allowed 5 in their club squads. However, the difference is the French plan is to have 5 per match-day squad, but could a lot more than that in their club squad. The English clubs are incentivized by the RFU to have minimum 70% English-qualified players in their match-day squads ie 16 players. This allows for 7 foreign players same as what the French club owners want.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 8:08am
        taylorman said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Geez, imagine what NH rugby would like if every SR side ‘only’ had five NH players in it. Not saying all the imports are from the SH but given the reverse 90 pros out of the northern scene, as well as the removal of all current SH players would probably leave a bit of a shell I would think.

        That is our reality.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2018 @ 8:59am
          Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          The reality is that there aren’t enough places for the players, or they get better opportunities elsewhere. As I said before, there’s 40 professional squads of approx 45 players on average, not counting Japan. That’s 1800 players in Europe. There’s 13 SANZAR teams in SR with maybe 35 spots in each squad. That’s 455. The players want to play. They’re seeking out opportunities. They’re advertising themselves. They sign up to agents. They go where the work is. It happens in every country. That’s the reality of professionalism.

          The game has changed.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 12:45pm
            sheek said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

            Yeah, that’s true enough.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 7:08pm
          Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

          It is not based on hemisphere.
          A Fijian playing in Aus is no different from a Fijian playing in France.

          France has, or has had, Canadians, Americans, Georgians, Romanians, English, Welsh, Irish, Scotish and all sorts of players from outside of France playing in France.

          Professional players play where the money is and they don’t need a hemisphere visa to cross the equator.

          The very basis of Super Rugby is having players from all over the globe come together to play in 1 comp but you seem to be upset that other comps use players from Arg, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, SA and Aus.

          Do you think as a hemisphere we should be as 1 and they should too?

          Conflict is very often between neighbours of the same hemisphere because there is no hemisphere pact.
          Just countries and people.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 6:49pm
        Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

        I don’t agree with the article.
        Its based on false logic.

        It says that the lack of opportunities for French players in France impacts the quality of the French team.

        There is no lack of opportunities. If you are good enough you do get opportunities. That’s a fact.

        Also the use of the Premier League as proof is flawed.
        How have Spain, Italy, France and Germany gone with the increase of overseas players in its leagues?
        Hurt them has it?
        Were England a footballing powerhouse previously?
        The % of English players in 1994 was around 65% but the team averaged a ranking that year of around 16th in the world.
        In 2012 it had almost halved to around 38% but the team averaged 5th in the world.
        The theory is just wrong.

        The amount of French players in the Top 14 is far greater than was Australia’s in Super Rugby in 1999 yet Aus were the world’s best.
        They had no significant national comp at all and only had 3 Top flight clubs.

        Imo its just an assumption and not a convincing argument.

        The French national team is struggling for other reasons. It has more opportunities for native French players to play each week in its top comp than does NZ in its top comp (Super Rugby). NZ does OK.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 8:21pm
          FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

          I agree with most of your arguments, Mmmmm. However, the problem with the English Premiership League in terms of the effect on England international Football is easy to see – it’s money. A 19 year old English kid attached to a Premier League club, even if he’s only in the senior squad and not the first team, will earn more money than the highest paid rugby player in the world. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I don’t get the sense that many of the 19 year olds driving round in Ferraris are particularly hungry to play for England or care that much when they get there.

          Forget rankings, they’re not particularly useful in football, England, up to about 10 years ago, consistently got to QFs and SFs of the World Cup and European Cup where they usually lost on penalties, or by the odd goal etc. In the last decade it’s an embarrassment. Iceland would not have beaten England 15 years ago, regardless of how ‘good’ they had become.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 10:16pm
            Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

            A 19 year old attached to a PL squad would be lucky to earn a 50th of the best player in the world.
            None of the top 20 paid players in the World are English let alone 19.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 10:46pm
            Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

            England’s under 18s national squad can make as little as £150 per week in a premier league squad.

            And England’s results at WCs has not got worse.
            That’s my point.
            They have NEVER been a consistently dominant footballing nation and their pattern of inconsistency has not gotten worse, it’s possibly improved.

      • January 11th 2018 @ 6:56pm
        Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

        Yes, Ireland.
        They have 4 teams.
        France has 14 teams.
        So, if we add up all the foreign players playing in the Pro 12… Well it’s no wonder that with around 80% foriegn players that Ireland’s doing so poorly.

        It’s false logic.

        France is not doing poorly because of 50% foreign imports.
        It is doing poorly for some of the same reasons SA is, a country with an incredibly low import %.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 11:11pm
          Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 11:11pm | ! Report

          People tend to blame what they want to.

          With SA they blame quotas. Which is not the reason at all imo. I see no evidence for that whatsoever. Many of the players who would be included under the quota have been excellent and many who wouldn’t have been poor.
          To blame the quota for results such as in the WC against France is plain wrong imo.

          With France they blame the Top 14 non French players.

          Both France and SA haven’t been at their best but it’s for much more complex reasons than the reasons people point to.

          For a start, neither team has great stock right now in comparison to other countries. Imo neither has great coaching staff. Morale is low in both camps, as is motivation imo.

        • Roar Guru

          January 12th 2018 @ 7:37am
          Poth Ale said | January 12th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

          “So, if we add up all the foreign players playing in the Pro 12… Well it’s no wonder that with around 80% foriegn players that Ireland’s doing so poorly.“

          Don’t understand this point. There’s about 95 foreign players total in the PRO14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scot, and Italy. Out of 258 players in Ireland, 224 in Wales, and about 180 between Scotland and Italy – senior and academy.

          • January 12th 2018 @ 12:34pm
            Mmmmm..k said | January 12th 2018 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            The Pro 14 has how many Irish, 150?
            How many players does the Pro 14 have, 550-600?
            So what % of the Pro 14 are Irish?
            A lower % of the Pro 14 are Irish than French in the Top 14 by miles.
            But people blame the lack of French players exposed to the top level despite MORE French being in the Top 14 than Irish in the Pro 14.

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 6:12am
      Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      I should add that if there is a reduction in France, then it remains to be seen if the foreign players then move to other markets and what value they can command in salaries.

      A recent comparison analysis published by esportifintelligence about salaries between Top14, Premiership and PRO14 showed the average French/English salary level is estimated at 20% more than the PRO14 and even greater for the high profile star players. So does the Top14 keep its high profile players and let go the middle- or low-rankers? Will those players return ‘home’ or seek salaries in the other two European leagues?

      • January 10th 2018 @ 7:19am
        sheek said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

        Thanks Poth Ale,

        It remains to be seen how this plays out. Australia certainly, needs more quality players back here to help grow the domestic game.

        As almost anyone will tell you, we have the most brutal domestic market with three winter footy codes overlapping soccer in summer.

        Of course, a player’s first responsibility is always to himself.

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 7:00am
      Harry Jones said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Well-written essay, Sheek.

      The Top 14 has widely-variant squad sizes (Montpellier carries the fewest players—35–whilst Agen has 55 in the squad). The average squad size is 42.5.

      Altogether, a staggering 43% of all Top 14 players is foreign. Four clubs (Brive, Montpellier, Pau, and Oyonnax) are more than half non-French.

      The “most French” is Castres (27 of the squad of 40 is French-eligible).

      I see that the number of non-Irish in the Pro 14 squads is typically single digits.

      I haven’t tabulated it, but I think maybe Saracens are the “least English?”

      Very few flyhalves in top French club rugby are French; that’s clearly a problem. And yes, it seems like all the owners have the same menu:

      – Saffa locks and hookers
      – Georgian props
      – SH scrumhalves
      – Wings from the islands
      – OZ/NZ playmakers and loosies

      • January 10th 2018 @ 8:11am
        taylorman said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        Gosh Harry, dont say that about the Saracens…’least English’… (I’ll say no more…).

        • January 10th 2018 @ 8:51am
          sheek said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          Yes, even the name Saracens is borrowed from the time of the Crusades!

          • January 11th 2018 @ 7:10pm
            Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

            Yes, Saracens is.
            The English went on Crusades.
            Did the people of Nelson NZ get involved in the Crusades because their Super Rugby side is the Crusaders.

            • January 11th 2018 @ 9:46pm
              sheek said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

              Oh, for heaven’s sake, stop being such a Dudley Do-right.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 1:33pm
                taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                Saracens are still going on Crusades Sheek, to pick up rugby players from the far away lands

        • January 10th 2018 @ 6:59pm
          cuw said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

          @ taylorman

          |Sarries – as one of the richer aviva clubs – have a big and quality roster.

          they have 24/39 with test caps. basically they can put out a test-cap XV.

          Eng 24
          SA 4
          Arg 2
          France 1
          USA 2
          Aust 2
          Wal 2
          Scot 2

          • January 11th 2018 @ 10:17am
            FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            This can’t be right, cuw. They’re back to back European champions yet they don’t seem to have a Kiwi player or coach. You must have it wrong.?

            • January 11th 2018 @ 4:01pm
              Jacko said | January 11th 2018 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

              Back to back??? Back to back to back to back losses this year

              • January 11th 2018 @ 8:29pm
                FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

                Don’t bet against them coming good now the injuries are reducing, Jacko. Here’s their first choice pack:

                1. M. Vunipola
                2. George
                3. Figallo
                4. Kruis
                5. Iziekwe
                6. Itoje
                7. Schalk Burger
                8. B. Vunipola

              • January 11th 2018 @ 10:28pm
                Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

                I don’t think they’d leave Koch and Rhodes out of their first choice pack.

              • January 12th 2018 @ 6:51pm
                taylorman said | January 12th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report


            • January 11th 2018 @ 7:42pm
              ClarkeG said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

              Cuw is very likely right however Sean Maitland is a player from NZ. 🙂

              • January 11th 2018 @ 8:32pm
                FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

                Ah, forgot about him. However, Maitland is by no means a certain starter. I suspect their preferred back three when all are fit is Goode, Liam Williams and Earle/Wyles

              • January 14th 2018 @ 6:05pm
                taylorman said | January 14th 2018 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

                Yes, amazing how their value rapidly decreases when one realises theyre kiwis.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 7:22pm
          Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

          588×0.57=335 French players in Top 14.

          5×42=210 SA players in Super Rugby.

          So SA has less SA players playing less games in its top comp?

          The amount of French players is not the problem.

      • Roar Guru

        January 10th 2018 @ 8:25am
        Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Hey Harry. I’m in process of tabulating the English league at the moment – I’ve completed the PRO14 Celtic teams.

        Exeter, the current English champions have 17 foreign flags in their squad and 2-3 more SA/Zim born players who moved when they were younger. Saracens have 15 from 39. London Irish have 31 out of 49. Wasps have 10 from 41. In contrast, Leinster have 5 from 47. Quite a variance.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 7:30pm
          Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

          Look at the comp as a whole.
          How many Irish play in the Pro12 compared to English in the Aviva?
          I’m guessing around 150 Irish and around 310 English. The Top 14 has over 300 French.
          The Top 14 is a comp and so is the Pro 12. The Pro 12 has around 75%-80% non-Irish.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2018 @ 7:54am
            Poth Ale said | January 12th 2018 @ 7:54am | ! Report

            The PRO14 Championship as a whole has 5 unions and 5 national teams linked to them (less so for SA). The Top 14 has the same number of teams and only one national team. There are approx 220 Irish-qualified players in the 4 teams playing in the PRO14 – senior and academy – from a total of 660 approx (excl SA teams) – about 33%.

            The number of foreign players plus no strategy around positional quotas (as Ireland has) impacts on the development and depth of the French team.

            • January 12th 2018 @ 12:43pm
              Mmmmm..k said | January 12th 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

              And the French have 14 teams and the Irish have 4.
              So France has 10 more teams.

              I would like to know which positions French players don’t get regular playing time compared to the Irish.

              The article mentions props.
              I’m guessing more French props play each week than Irish.
              I’m guessing more French 10s play each week. I’m guessing, on Ave that more French players play in every position than Scottish do.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 9:11pm
          FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

          I think the difference, PA, is that not only have Ireland only got 4 teams (at the highest level) the Ireland squad is heavily distributed across only two – Leinster and Munster. Given how many current Ireland internationals are in the Leinster squad it’s hardly surprising they only feel the need to add a few high quality ‘foreigners’. If you’re one of the 12 English clubs, with England internationals spread across virtually all of them, you need to supplement 45 man squads with additional quality if you want to compete with the likes of Leinster.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2018 @ 7:49am
            Poth Ale said | January 12th 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

            They don’t have a choice, FB. The quotas are set at 4 NIE and 1 player who could qualify for Ireland for each of Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Foreign NIE contracts can’t be renewed and its one Player per position.

            For all that there’s only 8 NIE slots filled out of 12 allowed. They don’t have the money anymore to pursue the big money players and IRFU is pushing investment and development of domestic pathway instead along with pursuing its IQ Rugby Strategy for Irish-qualified players and Irish coaches working abroad.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 10:47am
        Bakkies said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Harry that’s been going on for decades long before the current wave of players playing in the Top 14. France have never stuck with flyhalfs for that long. Christophe Laimaison is one of the most capped French fly halfs and he only played 36 tests. Sure Michalak has a lot of caps however he also played scrumhalf.

        They are worse than SA at developing flyhalfs.

        • January 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm
          sheek said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report


          Interesting that France, despite it’s historical reputation in the past for running rugby, haven’t really produced any stand-out flyhalves.

          Most of them were competent pass & kick types, good to very good, but rarely great.

          perhaps potentially the greatest no.10, Jo Maso, who played late 60s to early 70s, was treated shabbily by the selectors, being seen as a strong-willed, too-independent type.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 3:58pm
            Bakkies said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            Laimaison was poorly treated too. Never really got to see Castaignede reach his true potential.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 6:52pm
            cuw said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

            @ sheek

            present – though the clubs play nice running rugger, the fly half is usually an import.

            also injuries have not been kind to the fly halves – i recall seeing Lopez break a leg..

            Montpellier have Aaron Cruden or Franc Steyn

            La Rochelle have Ryan Lamb or Broc James

            Racing have Dan Carter and Johan Goosen

            Bordeux have Simon Hickey

            Pau have Colin Slade

            Clearmont recently have played Ice Toeava at 10

            StadeFr have Morne Steyn.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 4:49am
            FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 4:49am | ! Report

            Traditionally, Sheek, the French have seen the scrum-half as the playmaker rather than the fly-half.

            • January 11th 2018 @ 8:50am
              Bakkies said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

              FB it’s the same in SA.

              • January 11th 2018 @ 10:21am
                FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report


        • January 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm
          Boomeranga said | January 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

          “They are worse than SA at developing flyhalfs.”

          I would have thought SA pretty good at developing 10s – Goosen, Pollard, Lambie, Jantjies all pretty good pros. We seem to struggle more than they.

          • January 10th 2018 @ 4:00pm
            Bakkies said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

            ‘I would have thought SA pretty good at developing 10s – Goosen, Pollard, Lambie, Jantjies all pretty good pros.’

            That’s only recently and they haven’t got the best out of those four players at test level. The Sharks are making Bosch around like they did with Lambie. Dillyn Leyds played flyhalf at school level and is meant to be his preferred position yet I haven’t seen him play there for the Stormers.

            Apart from Honiball they had military medium flyhalfs like Hougaard, van Straaten, Louis Koen, Gaffie du Toit, Jannie de Beer. Butch James was solid. Morné Steyn had his running game coached out of him so he ended up being known as a kicking flyhalf.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 6:40pm
        cuw said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

        @ Harry Jones

        FRE TOT For
        Montp’r 29 47 18
        La Roch 24 38 14
        Castres 27 40 13
        Racing 24 41 17
        Toulon 22 41 19
        Lyon 27 49 22
        Toulouse 25 39 14
        Bordeaux 33 53 20
        Pau 18 37 19
        Clermont 25 42 17
        Stade Fr 20 39 19
        Agen 35 54 19
        Brive 20 41 21
        Oyonnax 18 40 22
        347 601 254

        SA 49
        NZ 45
        Fiji 32
        Aus 25
        Georgia 22
        Samoa 16
        Arg , Tonga 11
        Eng 7
        Italy 6
        Portugl , ireland 5
        Romania Ivory Cost USA Scotland 2
        \netherland Canada Germany Uruguay Columbia Moldova Spain Wales Cameroon Algeria Belgium 1

    • January 10th 2018 @ 7:21am
      sheek said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      Thanks Harry,

      The celebrated Currie Cup must be suffering horribly, with so many players tied up either with super rugby or in Europe.

      • Roar Guru

        January 10th 2018 @ 7:40am
        Harry Jones said | January 10th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Yes, but I was very happy WP won it, last year! The dilution is depressing, yes.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 10:48am
        Bakkies said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        Super Rugby contracted players are opting to play in Japan rather than play in the Currie Cup.

        • January 11th 2018 @ 6:53pm
          cuw said | January 11th 2018 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

          better money and easier rugger.

          the jap game is more about speed rather than the collisions, which saffas seem to like .

          but after some time they feel the wear n tear….

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Carlos the Argie said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Hi Sheek,

      I may be at a loss here, but who are those Argentine props that have invaded French rugby? I can’t seem to recall there are so many of them.

      And this is how soccer has managed the proportion of foreign players (plus other sports FYI):


      • Roar Guru

        January 10th 2018 @ 8:48am
        Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        You’re right Carlos. There’s only one, Gomez Kodelma, out of about 70. Georgia, SA and Tonga seem to be the main feeders.

        • Roar Guru

          January 10th 2018 @ 9:26am
          Carlos the Argie said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          Yes, it is Gomez Kodela playing for Lyon.

          But now Ramiro Herrera has joined Stade Français.

          There are 11 Argentine props in D2, Lucas Martinez (Albi), Víctor Arias (Montauban), Carlos Muzzio and Jerónimo Negratto (Mont de Marsan), Ariel Castellina and Agustín Costa Repetto (Coliers), Leandro Assi (Biarritz), Ramiro Pacheco and Martín García Veiga (Vannes), Bruno Mercanti (Soyaux Angouleme) and Nicolás Miranda (Bourgoin). They are ALL 27 years or older.

          Though this list is from April 2017, so it could have changed. I did not double check.

      • Columnist

        January 10th 2018 @ 6:48pm
        Nicholas Bishop said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

        There were more a few years back Carlos – Roncero, Bustos, Hasan, Scelzo, Orlandi, Guinazu, Henn, Bonorino, Herrera, Lobo, Tetaz all won caps off the top of my head…

        Nice article, thanks Sheek.

        • Roar Guru

          January 11th 2018 @ 4:02am
          Carlos the Argie said | January 11th 2018 @ 4:02am | ! Report

          Yes, before is before. Now is now.

          • January 11th 2018 @ 7:09pm
            sheek said | January 11th 2018 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

            It’s always fun to quote Don Rumsfeld:

            “We have known knowns & unknown knowns”.

            Which I guess means there must also be known unknowns & unknown unknowns…..

            • January 11th 2018 @ 8:52pm
              FunBus said | January 11th 2018 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

              If you dig out the full quote, Sheek, it was actually quite a subtle point he was making.

              • January 11th 2018 @ 10:55pm
                Mmmmm..k said | January 11th 2018 @ 10:55pm | ! Report

                The man is a genius.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 8:40am
      Steve said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Imagine the state of world rugby if French clubs didn’t employ foreigners. Thank goodness a kid from Tonga, Canada, Romania or Georgia can now grow up with the dream of becoming a rugby pro regardless of his birthplace.

      • Roar Guru

        January 10th 2018 @ 9:26am
        Poth Ale said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Indeed, Steve. That’s the other side of the coin. Have a look at one French team:

        Oyonnax – bottom of Top 14

        43 senior players.
        18 France
        6 NZ
        4 SA
        3 Aus
        2 Georgia
        1 Italy
        1 Ivory Coast
        1 Cameroon
        1 Argentina
        1 Portugal
        1 Romania
        1 Tonga

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