Gallagher Chiefs Squad Update
Rugby World Cup cycles are synonymous with a large number of player movements, and 2019 is no exception. The offshore player market power dynamic, has shifted. Japan has replaced England and France as the destination of choice for New Zealand Rugby players. Several factors have influenced this including; the shorter competition window in the Japanese Top League (compared to the English and French competitions), higher comparative salary and benefits such as accommodation supplements, and no formal salary cap model.
Additionally, the Japan Rugby Union (JRU) relaxed the player eligibility criteria. This has increased the number of foreign players that Japanese Clubs can recruit. Clubs are now allowed up to five foreign players on the field at one time (two capped players and three non-caped players). This has increased from three players previously. It is our understanding that the JRU will revert back to the three foreign player eligibility rule from 2021 onwards. This will stem the flow of playing talent currently leaving New Zealand.
Compounding the eligibility rules, the JRU, due to the 2019 RWC schedule, shifted the Japanese Top League competition window to run concurrently with the Investec Super Rugby competition in 2020 and 2021. Previously, players have had the ability to play Super Rugby and then opt to play in Japan during the Mitre 10 Cup window. Provincial Unions and Super Rugby Clubs have been hit hard, none more so that the Highlanders who have lost eight players to the Japanese Top League.
The Gallagher Chiefs have lost the services of the following players in 2020: Brodie Retallick Taleni Seu Jack Debreczeni
These players have all signed with Japanese Top League clubs. Retallick has agreed to return to the Gallagher Chiefs in 2022 competition. There is some scope that he may be available towards the end of the 2021 competition and I am working with NZR and his Japanese Top League team on the logistics around this. It was our preference to retain all three Chiefs players.
The following players have confirmed that they will not be returning to the Gallagher Chiefs next season:
Kane Hames (injury)
Jonathon Taumateine (Hurricanes)
Market forces that include the RWC and the international player market have created unprecedented player demand in New Zealand. All Super Rugby Clubs have been targeted in their recruitment of existing Super Rugby players from other New Zealand Super Rugby Clubs. The Gallagher Chiefs have fought hard to retain the following players who all received contract offers from multiple other New Zealand Super Rugby Clubs:
The Gallagher Chiefs Squad is at an advanced stage in the player contracting cycle. This is due to proactive contracting of players and some forecasting of potential challenges six to nine months ago. The 2020 Gallagher Chiefs squad still requires to contract a further six players to complete the playing roster. Rugby staff will turn their attention to the Mitre 10 Cup competition to contract these individuals