IRELAND FULLBACK AND IRUPA chairman Rob Kearney says that last week’s taxing change will benefit rugby players in giving them more choice in their career.
Sportsmen and women had been incentivised to finish their career in Ireland in order to avail of a sizeable tax break on their earnings.
Under an amendment to the scheme last week, sportspeople can now claim the relief if they are resident in any European Economic Area (EEA) country.
Asked if it’s a benefit to the players he now represents, Kearney said:
“Yeah, it does massively. It’s something the Union are not overly delighted with. I think finishing your career in Ireland was a big thing that kept a lot of players in the country.
“That. combined with there being a lot more French clubs out there paying higher wages looking for some Irish players, heightens [the temptation to leave] even further. There are some interesting times down the road.”
Donnacha Ryan is the latest Irish player linked with a move to France with strong suggestions that Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip are high on the Top 14′s shopping list too after Jonathan Sexton’s watershed move to Racing Metro.
However, the out-half’s experience perhaps hasn’t been all the champagne and sunshine that some would have expected. There is no such thing as a managed workload in France, clubs will ensure they get their money’s worth from any player tempted over.
“Probably one of surprises is about the amount of minutes he has played,” Kearney said at the launch of the Guinness Plus app yesterday.
“That is a big thing. If you want to look after your body and prolong your career, more often than not staying in Ireland is the best thing for you. If you want to make a few extra quid – which is important too, because it’s a short career – then maybe a move to France has the best options.
“It’s simple enough in terms of the two things you’re looking for, but if you do make that trip to France you need to be pretty durable.
“In saying that, if you go to some of the bigger clubs [Toulon, Toulouse or Clermont] with massive strength in depth. There will be a pretty good rotational policy and you won’t be playing the same amount of games, so there is a balance between the two.”
At Ireland training this week, Kearney got another chance to catch up with the Racing Metro number 10 and says Sexton is “glad to be home”, but that he and his wife Laura had settled in in Paris.
Though there is a growing community of Irish players and coaches in France’s top two divisions, Sexton remains the only front-line international to pass up a central contract in recent times. Kearney points out that the Union are doing a good work in not only retaining so many players on these shores, but also looking after them in terms of facilities and support while they’re here.
However, Kearney immediately added: “there is no doubt about it; it’s going to be an added challenge for them when this tax law comes in.”
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