IRFU smash pay structure with bumper €1.5m Heaslip contract
THE IRFU smashed their pay structure to keep Jamie Heaslip in Ireland in what is being described by industry sources as a landmark deal believed to be worth more than €1.5m over three years.
Fresh details have have emerged about the contract signed by the Ireland vice-captain on Thursday, which saw the country's best-paid rugby player receive a pay rise to take his earnings up to between €500,000 and €530,000 per annum.
The Irish Independent understands the Union passed up on an opportunity to sign the 30-year-old on a lesser deal last summer, and that decision ended up costing them as Toulon, one of the world's richest clubs, entered the market and drove up Heaslip's value.
Negotiations on the deal, which will keep the Naas native in Ireland until 2017, went down to the wire and it is believed that the lucrative final contract includes the player keeping control of his image rights and receiving a retainer.
It could also see him earn more through bonuses depending on appearances and performances with Leinster and Ireland.
Fears that Heaslip might leave for France were very real, with the European champions including a large house on the Cote d'Azur as part of their big-money offer, but it is believed that the IRFU ended up outbidding Bernard Laporte's club with their final offer, which meant that the No 8, who had always intended on staying if his valuation could be matched, signed on the dotted line.
The player visited France over the Christmas period to check out Toulon's facilities and meet coach Laporte and received an increased offer when Sean O'Brien decided not to make the move.
Negotiations continued between Heaslip's representatives and the Union, who made their final offer on Wednesday and, after considering his options, he put pen to paper.