WHEN all the hysteria has died down, Jonathan Sexton’s decision to join French side Racing Metro will be seen for what it is – a very clever move by the 27-year-old.
Rugby careers are short and the financial rewards are not on a par with those of soccer. This is, probably, the only chance Sexton is ever likely to have to secure his financial well-being for the day when he hangs up his boots.
Leinster are, of course, the big losers here. They have lost their second-highest profile player – behind Brian O’Driscoll – and their out-half. But they are fortunate to have Ian Madigan as a ready-made replacement.
Sexton’s international career will not be affected. He will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the IRFU and, as a consequence, will play more club games. But French clubs don’t over-burden their players either and regularly rotate their rosters.
Under IRB rules, Sexton will be released to Ireland for all internationals. It is also expected that Sexton will insist on clauses being included in his contract to allow him join with Ireland for the various training camps during the year. Tommy Bowe had similar clauses in his contract when he was an Ospreys player that ensured he missed no Irish training camp.
Sexton is also young enough to return to Ireland at the end of his contract and finish out his professional career here, thereby availing of the tax-back allowance deal.
There will, understandably, be much gnashing of teeth among Leinster supporters but this could be the making of Ian Madigan’s career.
When the hoopla blows over, this development will surely be seen for what it is – not that big a deal at least from an Irish perspective.