Rob Baxter said this week that there should be an open discussion about the salary cap and I agree with him but radical changes are not necessary.


He mentioned the possibility of introducing an American football-style draft to the Premiership but I don’t think that’s a solution to the problem. It’s also an interesting suggestion from Baxter because it would surely have negatively affected Exeter with all the top talent they’ve brought through.

Clubs are already compensated for bringing youngsters through their academies and developing them into international stars but perhaps more could be done, with a significant percentage of those players’ salaries not counting against the cap.

Rob Baxter has transformed Exeter Chiefs in his role as director of rugby (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

I don’t think big changes should be made just because Saracens have been found guilty of breaching it. They’ve done wrong and an example has been made of them but the salary cap is there for a reason.

It’s not there to clip clubs’ wings or prevent them from growing and improving. It’s there to make sure they’re all still around in 10 years’ time, as well as ensuring a level playing field as much as possible.

Nobody wants to see any of the current Premiership clubs falling by the wayside in the manner that the likes of Coventry and Richmond did in the early years of professionalism.


That is a serious possibility if some clubs are allowed to spend more and others feel they have to match them and spend beyond their means. The game is already beholden to a very small group of wealthy owners and it all goes to pot if they pull out.

Clubs all signed up to the terms of the salary cap as they are and also agreed not to publish the full details if anything were to happen, so there is quite a lot of anger out there at the moment among the other clubs and you can see why.

The league isn’t going to be ring-fenced for next season from what I hear because that would have to have been agreed prior to the start of the season but the talk of it happening continues and a draft would be going in that direction even more.

A similar thing already happens to a certain extent in New Zealand, for example, with players moving around to different franchises depending on their needs so the only way of making something like that happen would be to centrally contract players I think.


I don’t think that would be right in this case and I’m all for players earning as much money as they can but wages have been driven up enormously in the past five years or so.

Nigel Wray

Nigel Wray. (Getty Images)

Semi Radradra must be commanding a decent salary at Bristol next season and he’ll be a marquee player but it’s not right that Pat Lam has had to answer questions on how the Bears are managing to stay within the cap this week.

That’s a product of what has happened and some have suggested publishing all the players’ salaries. I wouldn’t have liked that to be the case when I was playing, though, and I wouldn’t like it in my day job now either!

I think players should have the right for those details to remain private. This scandal hasn’t been of their making either, it’s happened because of the actions of those above them.

For me, there is no need for radical changes such as a draft or publishing players’ salaries. The solution is simple. Just monitor the clubs more closely and more regularly as well.

PRL have got it wrong just auditing them at the end of the season. It should be at least twice yearly and really more regular than that with a continual dialogue taking place between PRL and the clubs.

If that means it costs the league more money, with 12 salary cap officers in place and one looking after each team and constantly keeping track of what they’ve done and what they intend to do, so be it.

We’re in unprecedented waters but increasing the salary cap or removing it isn’t the answer, that would be financially irresponsible, and gimmicks or radical solutions aren’t necessary either.

The cap is there for a reason. It will evolve, of course, but it’s there to ensure the sustainability of the clubs and the game. Saracens have been found guilty and an example has been made of them. Now, what’s needed is closer monitoring.

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