Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Big Dave (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 13:12

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Rich. (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 13:45

Pay well BD. Is there a short summary you are able to give - don't worry if that would be a pain.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Rinkadink (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 14:52

Can't read it either. Don't see how Lansdown is responsible for inflation of player wages given he has only very recently started to make serious bids for players and the market has been set by numerous French clubs plus the top AP teams like Sarries and them down the road whilst we were languishing in the championship.

Apparently Sarries main backer is very backseat (I'm sure, ha) and Lansdown is front foot - whatever that is supposed to mean. Doesn't exactly sound like praise nor good, honest journalism.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: robtheh (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 15:08

We may not have felt it in Britain yet, though we will get a strong taste of it next week when European competition starts, but in this fast-developing professional world, the most influential man in northern hemisphere rugby may be a former Bedouin tribesman who never played the game.

There are four big billionaires in the European game who are hugely responsible for inflating the player market and turning the best players into millionaires. Of the four, Johann Rupert, co-owner of Saracens, has adopted a studied backseat role. Stephen Lansdown (Bristol) is slightly more front foot, and Jacky Lorenzetti (Racing) far more so. But there is no one, right now, playing the game as unashamedly aggressively as the Montpellier owner, the former Bedouin, Mohed Altrad.

His team are leading the Top 14 in France. He recruited Vern Cotter this season and made him the best-paid coach in world rugby. He was so determined to extricate Louis Picamoles from Northampton Saints that he paid a £1 million transfer fee and made him the world’s most expensive No 8.
In France, there is a €10 million (about £8.9 million) salary cap per club and yet somehow Altrad has finished up with a team of galacticos valued by most at closer to €15 million. Exeter Chiefs, Leinster and Glasgow will feel the full force of that in their European Champions Cup group. The other clubs in France have long come to know his modus operandi and, it seems, they do not like what they have encountered.

Toulon were the first French club to stockpile international superstars, but Montpellier are starting to look even more stellar. Maybe that is why Mourad Boudjellal, the Toulon owner and a comparative pauper, dislikes Altrad so much.

Some might say that if you are crossing Boudjellal, then you must be doing the right thing. However, Altrad has taken such a singular approach to his campaign to establish Montpellier as the best in France and Europe that, at a recent meeting of the Union of Professional Clubs of Rugby (UPCR) in France, which 26 of the 30 clubs attended, they talked mainly about Montpellier and, at the end of it, the statement from the UPCR president read: “We have a charter of ethics. All presidents must respect this charter. Today, it is considered that it has not been respected.”

Altrad responded the next day in an interview with Le Figaro in which he labelled his opponents “a handful of imbeciles” and laid out his own defence. “In all my activities,” he said, “I want to be No 1 in the world . . . I have come [into rugby] with my business methods, my means, my demands . . . The mistrust of some people is based upon nothing except prejudice, suspicion and false allegations . . . These summary judgments . . . are like the spasms of a fearful world that is complacent about its past and turning its back on its future.”

Altrad’s story was extraordinary enough, even before he started taking on the rest of French rugby. He was born into a Bedouin tribe in Syria, from a young teenage mother who was raped by the head of the tribe. His elder brother was conceived the same way and then killed by the father.

His mother died the day he was born so he grew up with his grandmother, who didn’t educate him because she assumed he would become a shepherd. His obsession with school, though, led him to trek ten kilometres to be taught every day. The turning point in his life was when he won a scholarship to university — in Montpellier. He spoke no French but such barriers have never held him back.

His wealth comes from the construction business, mainly from scaffolding, and he will use it to win influence. This year, his construction company became the first shirt sponsors of the France national team. He is also a partner in France’s 2023 World Cup bid.

Of late, the mysterious retirement of Johan Goosen has caused widespread infuriation. Goosen was a Racing fly half/full back and the Top 14 player of the year in 2015-16. Then, last December, with three and a half years left on his contract, he walked out on Racing, announcing that he was to take up a role as a commercial director with an agricultural business in South Africa.

It all seemed suspicious. Boudjellal announced that any club president who signed Goosen was a “@#$%&”. It would cost €1.5 million to buy Goosen from his Racing contract. A fortnight ago, Altrad admitted that talks had begun to make this happen.

Of even greater concern has been his relationship with Bernard Laporte, the president of the French Rugby Federation (FFR). In August, a French newspaper published a story that Laporte was on a €150,000 consultancy deal with Altrad. Altrad denied it but, a week later, the contract was published, so Laporte came clean and then rescinded the deal.

At the same time, allegations became public that Laporte had persuaded the FFR appeals board to reduce a variety of penalties against Montpellier. Two players who were suspended had their penalties reduced. Another fine was cut by more than 70 per cent.
The trickle-down has become a deluge. Laporte has become toxic. His involvement has undermined the World Cup bid; President Macron, who is at the frontline of everything, could now hardly be further away.
Whether or not France win their World Cup bid, it is abundantly clear that Altrad will use what he calls “my business methods, my means” to win trophies for Montpellier. Those who know him describe him as courteous, polite if a little solitary, and given to writing poetry, but certainly not a man to cross when he is in pursuit of a goal.

In such pursuit, he is as responsible as anyone for the inflated player market. Why are clubs in Europe obliged to be loss-making businesses in order to compete? Mohed and Mourad are a big part of the answer.

They are not solely responsible. When Montpellier pulled off the signing of Aaron Cruden, the New Zealand No 10, for instance, there were two English clubs offering more. Yet, in the even bigger picture, Altrad is as big a reason as any as to why the likes of Cruden are now deserting their international careers when there are still years left in them.

The hope for their rivals — Exeter et al — lies in the fact that, pre-Cotter, Montpellier were poorly run. Their academy barely produces any fruit. They have a great first XV but no depth. Yet do not expect that to last. Altrad has only just got going.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Standardprocedure (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 15:59

Don't see how Lansdown is responsible for inflation of player wages given he has only very recently started to make serious bids for players

I think it's more to do with the perceived effect he's had. Bristol have been well funded for at least 3 years now, with big deals handed out to journeyman players in an effort to get out of the Champ last time. Players' agents will doubtless talk up a 'possible' bid from Bristol in order to get other clubs to open their wallets a little more; it matters not that Bristol probably have no interest in that particular player and haven't made a bid for him

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Big Dave (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 17:20

rob beat me to it.

Just thought it was interesting to read the impact that one man is having at Montpellier, and the backstory of that man is fascinating.

Also, I suspect SL could have a similar impact here.

If he chooses to.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Big Dave (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 17:44

Pay well BD.

No terribly.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Rich. (IP Logged)
Date: 03 October, 2017 21:57

Big Dave
Pay well BD.

No terribly.

smiling smiley Ah the joys of predictive text!

And thanks Rob.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Jimeno (IP Logged)
Date: 04 October, 2017 07:31

What an amazing story! He didn't have the best start in life did he?

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: hooter (IP Logged)
Date: 04 October, 2017 23:35

We are already seeing the the effect of increased player salaries, the reduction in squad depth and size the effect injuries are having on match day squads, wasps against barf last weekend for example

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: RJC (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2017 07:40

That is only because of the salary cap.

Maybe the RFU ought to look at the cap, and the marquee players again?

Maybe the Marquee players should be aimed at English players in the elite squad?

eg Clubs are allowed 2 or 3 Marquee English players outside of the cap if they are part of that seasons Elite squad.
That would go some way to easing the recruitment issues as players like Itoje, Farrell, Ford etc could be commanding high 6 figure or even 7 figure salaries in the future.

Maybe go one step further and make it applicable to players that have been through the academy system as well, so Itoje, Farrell, Mako would be eligible, but Ford, Billy V and others wouldn't be as they have switched clubs.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Gray_Lensman (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2017 08:31

And Mako hasn't?

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: SparkyBris (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2017 08:44

I could be wrong, but I think Mako joined the Sarries Academy straight from ours. Shrewd move by them!

Supporting Bristol since... since... Oh, not enough fingers.

Re: Montpellier - worth a read
Posted by: Graham_U (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2017 12:37

Under the guidance or Robertson/Holley I thought SL had been responsible for increases in player pensions, particularly Welsh, at least until Lam took over. Lam's salary and I suspect Piataa and Luatua will certainly be up there.


C'mon Bris,,file=399.jpg

Stand out in a crowd, wear the Hoops!

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