Friday 19 January 2018

Dallaglio: French club success comes at cost

former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio (pictured) views the poor performance of English clubs in Europe as a "crisis" for French rugby rather than evidence of a gulf in class between the Aviva Premiership and Top 14.

Saracens are the England's solitary representative in the semi-finals after Bath, Northampton and Wasps tumbled out of the Champions Cup over the weekend, scraping through 12-11 against Racing Metro.

Most alarming of the defeats was Clermont's spellbinding 37-5 rout of reigning Premiership champions and runaway leaders Saints, whose director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted the result points to a chasm between the English and French leagues.

The divide will only grow as more of the southern hemisphere's finest talent head for the Top 14, as typified by Will Genia's decision to snub Bath for Stade Francais and Dan Carter's vast £1.4million salary when he joins Racing Metro after the World Cup.

While former England captain Dallaglio regards the influx of household names as exciting for France's club game, he believes it is a disaster for the national side who have not finished above fourth place in the RBS 6 Nations since 2011.

Dallaglio said: "There is something going dramatically wrong in French rugby because while they're happy to attract the biggest and best foreign names to their club game, they're doing so at the expense of their national side. There's a balance to be struck and we've got it right in England, Ireland and Wales."

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