For a number of weeks there has been speculation that Louis Picamoles will be leaving Northampton to re-join Montpellier.
Nothing had been confirmed but earlier today Midi Olympique ran a story that stated that it was a done deal. It says that the paperwork has been completed and a transfer fee agreed.
Transfer fees aren’t all that common in Union and this sets a dangerous precedent.
Other high profile controversies include the legal case over Denny Solomona leaving Castleford for Sale, Carl Fearns and the Lyon/Gloucester saga and Springbok Johan Goosen deciding to retire at 24. In Goosen’s case it was suggested it was a wheeze to get out of his contract at Racing with a view to joining Montpellier.
The fee for Picamoles – rumoured to be around a million euros – is applicable because Montpellier have to buy out the last 2 years of his contract.
Alongside Kurtley Beale and Willie Le Roux at Wasps, Picamoles has been one of the standout marquee players in the Premiership this season. Beale is headed back to Australia and the Wallabies.
Losing the big French number 8 will be a blow to the Saints, it will be interesting to see how they use the money – maybe looking to sign either Pierre Spies (late of Montpellier) or Sergio Parisse.
Vern Cotter is taking over from Jake White at Montpellier and will be delighted to have the big man in his attempt to win something next season.
Money issues are becoming important in the Premiership – the salary cap is going up again and Aviva are not sponsoring the league next season. The 6 Nations is losing RBS sponsorship and the Champions Cup has struggled to link with a headline sponsor.
The interest in rugby is growing, but it needs cash injections from sponsorship as well as benefactors in order to continue to prosper.