To compete in the European rugby scene these days you need money. The English teams have increased their already high salary cap even higher, while the Top 14 are talking about increasing their's.
Even with the salary caps, the English and French clubs are able to spend significantly more on players than the rest of the Celtic clubs. Irish provinces are restricted by overseas rules and financial backing, but the IRFU has agreed to give an increased backing to the four provinces.
According to Brendan Fanning, a meeting of the IRFU committee decided to hand each province an extra €500,000 this year, with the same coming the following year. While that will be welcome for the likes of Leinster who are expected to return a loss of €100k this year, primarily from failing to get out of the Champions Cup pool - it's vital for Munster who have a recorded loss of €2 million - mostly from repayments to the Thomond Park rebuild.
We've seen what proper backing can do this season with Connacht's growth, and while it's not certain how or where each province will spend the money - it's always welcome.
Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE