Word of Donnacha Ryan's departure from Munster came as a real wrench for supporters. The second row is currently playing some of the best rugby of his career and looked set to be an important part of a Munster side full of potential.
Ryan's central contract is up at the end of the current season. According to reports, his age was a factor in him not being offered an extension to his current deal by the IFRU. That was despite the Nenagh man being just four days older than Jamie Heaslip who was given a new deal in February.
A move to France, with Racing 92, will reportedly be worth €600,000 over his two-year contract. A considerable sum for a player entering the latter years of his career. Though, the injuries he suffered during what should have been the prime years of his rugby career could end up extending his playing time overall.
Ryan moving to Racing means him uniting once again with a former Munster teammate - Ronan O'Gara. The Munster legend is currently defence coach of the current Top 14 champions.
In his Irish Examiner column this week, O'Gara explained his involvement in Ryan moving to France. O'Gara says that he was involved in the initial contact with the 33-year-old but stepped aside when it came to the nitty-gritty of contract talks.
Players like that are not frequently available, so from Racing's point of view, it's a great signing.
How involved was I? Of course, I went after him initially but when it came to the contracts and the small print, I stayed well away from everything. An individual has to decide for himself what they want to do. With the volatility in French rugby, there's no point signing a contract thinking, 'I'll be here forever and a day'. Even in recent weeks, Donnacha would have been a close observer of the 'fusion' with Stade Francais which looked like it might scupper any hope of a deal for him.
So it was really important that Donnacha, or any player, makes up their own mind rather than me trying to convince them it's the right thing to do.
O'Gara believes the IRFU and specifically performance director David Nucifora took a gamble that Ryan would be offered a sufficiently lucrative provincial contract from Munster to keep him in Ireland. However, 'that gamble failed'.
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