The good news is that Todd Blackadder had a very good holiday in Italy and Greece. The bad news for New Zealand rugby is that Blackadder is now back at work and looking for “six or seven” new players to ensure Bath become serious English Premiership contenders again.
Blackadder is just one of English rugby’s 12 Premiership directors of rugby on the hunt for new talent to bolster resources, with Ben Franks and his newly promoted London Irish club the first cab off the rank by announcing ten new players, including ex-Blues lock Teofilo Paulo and Italy full-back Luke McLean. Irish can spend up to £7m which is the new English salary cap for next season and that allows the Premiership clubs to a least try to compete with the big spending French outfits who still have the biggest bucks to offer rugby’s top talent.
While Dan Carter banks more than a million Euros a year at Racing, the best deal in England last season was Kurtley Beale’s reported £750,000 ($1.3m NZD) a season with Wasps who waved goodbye to him in May as he headed back home early to Oz. The beaten Premiership finalists are not going to bring in a similarly expensive marquee player as they already have a host of back line talent – much of it English qualified.
The top England players will be receiving close to £400,000( $705,000NZD) a year which is a figure clubs were quoted when Toby Flood was on offer after he decided to leave Toulouse. That is the salary request a leading English club official gave me and the 31-year-old former England outside half eventually signed for former club Newcastle.
So, if that kind of money is available for the top of the range player, what can your average Premiership player hope to receive? Well, two years ago it was estimated the average wage was £100,000 but Bob Casey, the out-going London Irish chief executive, has confirmed a big jump has taken place. He said: “Statistically, wages have gone up and the average is £160,000($282,000NZD) for standard players. You can only imagine what internationals are earning. We are realistic and have not chased guys who we couldn’t afford and our only goal is to stay up next season and then really grow.
“We have looked at better people to come in and join the core of the squad that got us promotion. Nick Kennedy and Brendan Venter have done an incredible job and we started recruiting last July as if we were in the Premiership already.“
So, sun tanned Blackadder has his work cut out before the season starts.