Insert your teams name here.
For what I’m about to say will apply to most of you. Be it Leicester and Toby Flood, Gloucester and Freddie Burns or the Welsh Regions and any of their International players. We have entered January, the ‘silly season’ for rugby. The one month of the year when our great game comes closes to representing the mayhem of football.
January is the month when clubs are ‘legally’ allowed to talk to players whose contracts are due to come to an end in the summer. Every day it seems a player is linked with yet another new club, any sense of loyalty lost in the Pound (or mainly Euro!) signs of a new contract.
For that is what it can feel like, a betrayal. Why is this player choosing someone else over MY team? Many of us would cut off our right arms just for the opportunity to put the shirt on and go out there and represent our club (granted with one arm we might not be any good….though come to think of it still better than some I’ve seen play for my lot!).
When we see players come through the junior ranks, into the seconds, the odd substitute appearance for the first team amongst rumours that he might be something special, might be good enough one day to represent our club for his country, it means something to us. A connection is made, a sense of pride. A togetherness as another young (usually local) lad wants to play rugby for our team.
The thought that one day that player might want to leave and go and play for someone else just doesn’t sit right somehow.
I am, of course, taking the very one eyed fan view here. There are a myriad of reasons why a player will leave one club for another. To move closer to family or simply relocate a family that can’t settle in a certain area. Disagreements with management or team mates. The simple fact that the new team is better than the old one which will then enhance any prospects of playing at a higher level (one that us fans will never agree on!) and perhaps most importantly of all earning potential.
We perhaps forget that the professional rugby player has a very short career span. They play a very dangerous game, knowing that their next match could very easily be their last. Of course, they have every right to maximise that earning potential as best they can.
For what it’s worth my team are the Sale Sharks. We have lost our best young talent to other clubs in the past. Charlie Hodgson, Richard Wigglesworth, Chris Jones, Magnus Lund and Ben Foden all products of the Sale academy, all represented England. If the rumours are to be believed its going to happen to us again this summer with Henry Thomas and James Gaskell leaving for Bath and Wasps respectively.
Also for what it’s worth Sale were founded in 1861, 153 years and still going strong. My point? Players will come and go, trophies will be won and lost. There will be highs. There will be lows. But that’s what makes supporting your club so great. It’s about finding out who that next great young prop or number eight might be. Whose the next player who wants to wear that shirt, play for your team.
Because if they don’t there’s plenty of us with one arm who do!