French rugby heading for ditch

January 8, 2014
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Guy-Noves-Toulouse-boss-2012_2744912Toulouse manager Guy Novès voiced his concern about the French Rugby Federation’s new policy concerning international players.

Last December, the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) signed an agreement that will limit a 30-man group named before the start of each year’s June international tour to a maximum of 30 games per season.

On Monday, France coach Philippe Saint-André named a 30-man squad that will participate in a three-week training camp ahead of the Six Nations. The group includes eight Toulousains, the largest contingent from any club.

Les Bleus open their campaign against England on January 25, the same weekend that Toulouse travel to Paris to face Racing Metro.

While many have hailed the Union-League agreement as a measure to protect France’s best players, Novès has slammed the move as a step in the wrong direction.

“What is the point today for a club to develop a young player with international potential knowing that if you get there, he will be pinched from you for the national team and you won’t have him anymore?” Novès told Rugbyrama.fr.

“I find it absurd that the presidents of the ProD2 clubs were involved in voting on the availability of internationals. They are not at all concerned.

“I also find it very odd that broadcasters are asked to pay more when we see the best players on the field less and less. And I do not understand that we ask supporters to pay for season tickets to attend matches where they are deprived of the best players.”

The iconic manager, who has led Toulouse to four European titles and ten French domestic titles and has been a long-time critic of calendar clashes, believes that the focus should be on the bottom of the player pyramid, not the top.

“I believe that if we want to compete with the best you must develop the best players,” said Novès, who won seven caps for France as a player in the late ’70s. “And the problem of French rugby is our player development is lax and haphazard. French rugby in general should rather focus on that for ten years, then we can compete with the others. “It does not make sense to always prioritise the French national team when you see all the people who are going to games all over France every weekend and who want to see their best players.

“Not everyone has the means to pay for a French national team match. They want to see their stars on their own pitches. No, I do not understand why French rugby is going into this ditch which, in the medium term, will kill our sport.”

Source: Planet Rugby

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