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Martin Williamson | Columnist Index
Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of when Wales ruled and England were perennial whipping boys, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo
Wales Player Exodus
Time for a dose of Welsh reality
Martin Williamson
December 5, 2013
A Welshman abroad ... James Hook scores for Perpignan © Getty Images
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Amid all the soul-searching and anger over the continuing stream of players leaving Wales to seek better rewards elsewhere the reality of the real world is being forgotten, as Kingsley Jones points out. Money talks and Welsh rugby simply does not have enough of it.

Modern sportsmen are nomads - or mercenaries if you prefer - playing where the rewards are best. If club and county loyalties can be put aside by fans, few would begrudge players the chance to earn well while the going is good.

They have short shelf lives in rugby and a serious career-ending injury is a constant threat. They have every right to make the most of the time they have in the game. While that ought not to impact on their national pride, it means they play week-in, week-out where the pay is best.

At the moment French rugby is booming and the money on offer is hugely appealing. The lifestyle is also an attraction as is the standard of rugby. None of those factors can realistically be countered by the Welsh board.

Welsh rugby has not the money to prevent the continuing exodus. The WRU's £1 million fund to help keep players is a tiny sticky plaster over a gaping wound. It would do better to spend it time and effort accepting the realities of the world and working out how to make the best of a bad situation.

Jones is right when he says the impact of rugby league in the amateur era was potentially more damaging. It made those crossing codes outcasts, both sporting and in some sad instances socially. At least now there is a welcome for any players who return home and the national team arguably benefits from having key players taking part in a better standard of rugby.

And look at football. Brazil have only two of their current squad actually playing in the country's domestic leagues ... and they don't do too badly on the international stage.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Managing Editor, ESPN EMEA Digital Media

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