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Will Bath's £100,000-plus signing of Redpath spark a contract buy-out trend in recruitment?

By Alex Shaw
(Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Although Cameron Redpath isn’t a household name in rugby just yet, his move to Bath earlier this week has created plenty of ripples in the professional game.


Not only was it a mid-season move – which is rare in itself – but with Redpath having signed a five-year deal with Sale Sharks fresh out of Sedbergh school in 2018, there was still three-and-a-half years of his deal that Bath had to negotiate a buy-out of.

The inside centre has been highly-touted for a number of years now and after starring for the England U18s side, he was selected to tour South Africa with the seniors the summer he left Sedbergh. His hopes of an early debut were scuppered, however, by an injury that ultimately led to him having to have an ACL reconstruction.

Contract buy-out isn’t unheard of as Mako Vunipola made a similar move from Bristol Bears to Saracens in 2011, although his contract in the south-west was significantly shorter than Redpath’s at Sale which resulted in a much smaller compensation figure.

RugbyPass understands the figure for Redpath’s release to be significantly above £100k. It’s a sizeable sum for Bath to part with and a relatively high figure for rugby union. It shows the faith that the club have in Redpath as a Bath player.

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With clubs beginning to tie down young players on longer term deals, such as Sale did with Redpath, the opportunities for rival clubs to snap up exciting prospects at the end of their contracts will lessen.

Instead of youngsters signing one- or two-year deals and having limited time to prove their worth, a talented player in the second or third year of his five-year deal will be able to negotiate a new contract with his current club months or even years before rival sides are allowed to talk to him.

As such, aggressive clubs who have the salary cap space could more regularly start targeting youngsters at other clubs, particularly those who are struggling to break into their respective senior XVs. In addition to that, the current Premiership salary cap regulations state that transfer fees and/or compensation payments to other clubs do not count towards the salary cap.


At the least, these two factors should put other clubs on notice that teams will become less afraid of taking these kind of risks, particularly if they have an owner or ownership group who are willing to bankroll the moves and are looking for a competitive edge in a salary cap league.

For agents, there’s a win-win scenario here whereby not only do they move a younger player to a new club with the hope that more playing time awaits, they will also likely see that player sign a contract on improved terms from their previous deal.

Agents fees are often at a higher percentage when a player is moving to a new club as opposed to when they are extending their contract at their current one, and though that won’t be decisive for most agents in their decision to encourage their clients to move, it’s a perk that won’t be ignored either.

If the Redpath acquisition proves to be as successful as Saracens’ signing of Vunipola, the chances of this sort of move happening more often in the future are only going to increase, and it will at least encourage clubs to invest accordingly in their talent identification departments.

Clubs can be guilty of becoming locked in on one particular pathway, or perhaps a handful of favoured schools within their academy region, so any development in the game that brings a fresh approach to the process of recruitment and encourages clubs to think outside of the box, is a refreshing one.

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