Is James Hook leading a Welsh rugby exodus?

20 Jan

With James Hook set to leave the Ospreys for a lucrative deal in France, and his potential successor for Wales, Steven Shingler, signing for London Irish, an exodus seems to be taking hold of Welsh rugby.

Wales’ Grand Slam-winning full-back Lee Byrne is another who has been widely tipped for a move abroad, as Wales braces itself for a mass outpouring of talent.

Whereas Hook’s departure may come as little surprise (given his high profile, the wages on offer at Perpignan and the competition for places at the Ospreys), Shingler’s could raise a few more eyebrows.

Shingler, featured by The XV after guiding the Scarlets to a win at London Irish earlier this season, has been tipped as a future Welsh number 10 by his coaches at Llanelli.

The fledgling fly-half may have to wait some time, however, until he can add a senior cap to the one he earned as a Welsh international at Under 20 level.

Shingler’s move to London Irish could hinder his international ambitions, with Warren Gatland stating on a number of occasions that players playing in Wales will be given priority ahead of those plying their trade elsewhere.

But with a number of Welsh regions failing to compete financially with clubs in England and France, Gatland could soon be forced into a radical U-turn on his selection policy.

Cardiff Blues’ coach Dai Young this week admitted the region will need to cut its wage bill by around £750,000, and reports abound that among the players to leave will be Grand Slam winners Tom Shanklin and Martyn Williams.

With the Six Nations just over a fortnight away, Welsh rugby appears to be in some danger. The question is: just how bad will it get?

3 Responses to “Is James Hook leading a Welsh rugby exodus?”

  1. Rhod January 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    What I don’t understand is that the welsh regions, the blues especially are complaining they don’t have the budget to compete in Europe. When they had a player wage budget of £5mil this year. When Aviva Premiership clubs are limited to £4mil. And Northampton Saints will more than likely reach the final. I don’t see where all our regions wage budget is going (minus the Ospreys)?
    I understand French teams have larger budgets with a cap of around £7 mil + all the benefits they slap on in cars, houses etc. So a move abroad is tempting. It doesn’t bother me that Hook or Byrne might leave for France, as it gives other welsh home grown talent the chance to move in. What I am concerned about is the young talent like Shingler leaving for England. The last thing we want is for him to be there for x amount of years, claim residency then walk out on the pitch in a white shirt against Wales in 4-5 years time!
    One more thing I dislike about absurd player wages is; that more than any sport, rugby is a game of passion, you shouldn’t be playing for a club because they pay you £200k a year! Which is another reason the whole Williams and Shanks thing annoys me! They’ve been 100% dedicated to the blues from the word go! And the blues just push them aside! RUDE!

  2. Rhodri January 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    It’s hardly a disaster. Ok, some players might not be able to play/train at certain stages of the season but surely, playing in a more competitive league and in an environment that isn’t a goldfish bowl will improve them as players. Stephen Jones’ time at Montferrand made him a better player. And it might benefit a club like the Ospreys as they’ll have to depend on some home-grown players which could create an unit rather than the galacticos type approach at the moment.


  1. Wales warned not to expect ‘too much too soon’ of Matthew Morgan « The XV - April 13, 2011

    […] Morgan’s game will certainly benefit from playing more often with the Ospreys’ first team, and his chances of doing so will be enhanced when fellow fly-half James Hook leaves for Perpignan in the summer. […]

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