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'French rugby has to crush the world… economically, we are the All Blacks of rugby'

By Online Editors
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal wants the French game to start fully fulfil its potential (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Mourad Boudjellal has called on French rugby to get its house in order as the financial muscle that exists in the sport isn’t matched by its level of international success. 

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The controversial Toulon owner failed in his bid in 2016 to become president of the LNR, the governing body of the Top 14 league. 

Another election is now on the horizon. However, rather than put himself forward as a candidate in a bid to topple the incumbent Paul Goze, Boudjellal has called on the administration to start fulfilling its potential.   

“For the next elections to the league, I will not show up but I will present a programme and whoever wants to pick it up will pick,” explained the comic book millionaire in an interview with French website, RugbyRama.  

“I think French rugby has to crush the world. We are the All Blacks of rugby economically, we must also become sporting. For that, there are methods. We must abolish certain taboos, look for causes, stop pushing open doors and finally believe that all clubs must be similar. Uniformity has never advanced.

“I will propose a virtuous model that I will send to all Top 14 presidents and all LNR presidential candidates,” he continued. 

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“When I see that a president has had to make incredible financial arrangements to bring Dan Carter, who filled the stadiums, I think it’s a shame. I have the weakness to think that people will be clever about the reality that happens to us. Otherwise, we will not play for the collective interest.”

Boudjellal’s particular bugbear regarding the set-up of the French league is the JIFF system that is putting pressure on the recruitment of big-name foreign players into the domestic game in France. 

“This system is a stupidity because it totally disrupted the market,” he said. “Young people do not have to work hard for big salaries, just to be JIFF. 

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“A JIFF is a player of the ninth or 10th world nation and this status now allows him to win as much as an international of the top five nations. When you give a kid E15,000 just because he is JIFF, he is happy, he lives well but it kills the taste of effort.

“At the same time, the marquee player (a player whose salary does not enter salary cap) was refused, which is an insult to the broadcaster. 

“It’s as if, in football, Amiens said: ‘Neymar PSG is not on because it does not fall within our logic of equity’. 

“We also have JIFFs that can represent their nation of origin. We also take kids from their country very early to make JIFF, and we have a fashion that settles in the clubs of ‘Fidjiff’. 

“We finally force foreign players who have built (their careers) in France to leave simply because they are foreigners. I think there are other methods.”

WATCH: Episode three of the RugbyPass Rugby Explorer series where Jim Hamilton takes a trek through South African rugby

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'French rugby has to crush the world… economically, we are the All Blacks of rugby'

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