Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Avoiding poaching - the French solution

The problem of bigger, more successful, clubs poaching players is clearly not just an English problem - the French have suffered from it too, but have come up with an interesting solution. It probably would not work in junior rugby (well, not without a bit of tweaking) but for the adult game it seems pretty effective.

All registered players in France (they call them "licensed", but it amounts to the same thing) have a "colour". Women who have been playing for less than four years are "orange", players who have been playing for longer - and have also been at the same club for more than four years - are "white", but any player who has moved clubs within the last four years is "white-yellow".

There are then strict limits on the number of "white-yellow" and "orange" players a team can field in any league game.
  • A maximum of 7 "white-yellow" in a squad of 22 (6 in a squad of 21, 5 in 20, 4 in 19 - you cannot play with a squad smaller than 19).
  • A maximum of 11 "orange" players in a squad
These limits are carefully policed - last year the champions USA Perpignan were caught, had a win and points taken away, and were also fined €200.

Its an interesting idea as it means that large, successful clubs like Perpignan cannot sign up every promising player in their region - thus effectively killing off rival clubs - but instead have to base their game around players who have been at the club for four years or more. To an extent it ensures that talent is spread around as a player wanting to move will steer away from a club with a lot of recent signings. In essence you cannot "buy" success.

It can make things difficult for clubs newly promoted to higher divisions, especially if they have relatively small squads, or where a significant number of players retire together (a problem faced by RC Chilly last year), but all in all it seems to work. After Perpignan were caught early last season, no other club suffered similar fines.

It would be interesting to speculate how a similar system might work in England, at junior or senior level. At the very least it would encourage clubs to register their players in the first place - and keep the registrations up-to-date!

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