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O'Driscoll off to France???


An Tarbh

Heard on the radio this morning that O'Driscoll was at the Biarritz match at the weekend, kind of like a pre meet and greet before signing any possible contract. He was also photographed with Biarritz captain Thomas Lièvremont.

Bit of a dangerous game to be playing in my opinion, he'd be the best paid player in the IRFU, his tax benefits would negate a move to the Premiership not sure what the situation regarding tax benefits for pro sportsmen in France is but if it's not as good then he'd be better off staying in Ireland.

I don't believe for a second when I hear him say that he wouldn't go for the money, he certainly knows which side his bread is buttered on when it comes to flashing euro signs.

Originally posted by Irish Times
Biarritz visit fuels move talk
Gerry Thornley Rugby correspondent

Rugby Speculation is intensifying amongst Biarritz Olympique supporters and the French rugby media that the Leinster, Irish and Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll is bound for the French champions after his much trumpeted and televised appearance as the club's guest of honour for their home match with Stade Français on Saturday.

According to witnesses, at the game or watching it on television, it was almost as if O'Driscoll was being paraded as a new signing to the home fans - much as a soccer club might do. However, Ireland's record try scorer was hardly likely to know the game was being televised live, or that such a fuss was going to be made of his appearance there.

Interviewed by Canal Plus at half-time, O'Driscoll said he was on vacation in the south east of France over the weekend, where he and his family have often holidayed. That said, O'Driscoll was formally invited to the game by the Biarritz president Marcel Martin, who led him on to the pitch before the game and asked O'Driscoll to perform the kick-off.

Furthermore, there were pictures of O'Driscoll yesterday on the Biarritz website sitting beside Martin at the pre-match lunch, posing beside the Bouclier du Brennus (the championnat trophy which Biarritz won last year) and alongside the club's captain Thomas Lievremont. O'Driscoll watched the game in the VIP box along with Martin and former French and Biarritz legend Serge Blanco, amongst others, and met Biarritz coach Patrick Lagisquet.

The Lions captain has never disguised his liking for French club rugby and when interviewed by L'Equipe afterwards, said: "I've never hidden the fact that at some stage I would like to play in France. My contract with the IRFU will finish at the end of June so I have got to make a decision and it would not be for monetary reasons only.

"At some stage I would like to experience a new lifestyle," added O'Driscoll. Asked if that could be in Biarritz, he responded: "Why not? I like the brand of rugby that they play and I like the place and the atmosphere."

His father and business manager Frank maintained the Irish captain was "on holidays" in France and that he merely attended Saturday's match, while O'Driscoll himself was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Figures are already being bandied about in French circles, but it is my understanding that no formal negotiations have begun.

Nonetheless, O'Driscoll, Denis Hickie and several others are out of contract at the end of this season, including some Munster frontliners, and the IRFU have yet to open negotiations with the majority, if any, of them.

By comparison, soccer club Arsenal are opening negotiations on a new contract with Thierry Henry next week even though his current contract doesn't expire until the end of the 2006-'07 season, and this is now common procedure in professional sport.

The dilly-dallying by the IRFU over the contracts of Shane Byrne and Leo Cullen - who subsequently joined Saracens and Leicester respectively - is known to have dismayed their Leinster and Irish teammates. Although the IRFU will be loathe to lose their most prized asset, O'Driscoll is almost a unique case. Monetary considerations will not be paramount and he might even be willing to take a pay cut.

Now 26, the time would appear opportune for him to fulfil his wish of playing in France and still have ample time to return to finish his career here if he so wanted, thereby availing of Charlie McCreevy's tax rebate.

As his Lions tour experience would have reminded him, to leave it another couple of years in such a high-impact, injury-prone sport would be a gamble.

Nor would the implied threat of losing out on the Ireland team carry as much weight with a player of O'Driscoll's calibre, while the lure of playing in France before the 2007 World Cup finals are held there would be an added attraction.

Furthermore, the upheavals at Leinster (four different coaches in six years as well as a steady drain of players) have weakened their hand in the Heineken European Cup, culminating in last season's disappointing quarter-final exit, as well as the Celtic League.

Saturday's developments will no doubt speed up renegotiations with the IRFU, as well as Biarritz and perhaps other suitors in France and England. O'Driscoll has much thinking to do, but for what it's worth, my guess is he will be playing in the red and white of Biarritz Olympique next season.

Mind you, if Messieurs Martin and Blanco were hoping Saturday's grudge match at the Parc des Sports Aguilera would be an enticing foretaste for the watching O'Driscoll, they must have been nervously casting sideways' glances.

Stade Français won 14-7 in a game that was marred by red cards for Biarritz's Imanol Harinordoquy and Stade flanker Arnaud Marchois, amid a level of violence which had referee David Rosich threatening to abandon the game.

He's out of contract at the end of June, so negotiations should begin fairly soon. The IRFU should get the lead out and start the negotiations while he's still injured. No point in a repeat off the farce that saw Byrne pushed off to Saracens.
BOD was at Biarritz because he's resting and healing in the Serge Blanco's Thalassotherapy center.

Sportmen have no special fiscal gift in France. They get some additional money from their image rigths. This is exempted of welfare but not of income taxes.
This is the latest from the BBC on the saga

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
Irish ready for O'Driscoll fight
Brian O'Driscoll is not expected to be back playing until December
Brian O'Driscoll has always fancied a stint in French rugby
Irish officials are battling to prevent Brian O'Driscoll from moving to France when his contract ends next June.

O'Driscoll's appearance at Saturday's match between Biarritz and Stade Francais fuelled rumours the centre, 26, could be heading for the continent.

But the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) want their captain to stay and say they are in talks about a new deal.

"We shall do all everything we can to ensure Brian is not lost to the game in Ireland," said a spokesman.

"The IRFU is committed to a policy of keeping all its top players in Ireland and O'Driscoll falls into that category."

O'Driscoll, who plays his club rugby for Leinster, is one of Ireland's top stars, having captained the side since 2003.

But he seems keen to take up a fresh challenge, a fact he made clear when interviewed by French television during Biarritz's game with Stade Francais at the weekend.

"I have never hidden the fact that, at some stage, I would like to play in France," he said.

"Would I want to play here? Why not? I like the Biarritz brand of rugby, I like the place and I like the atmosphere.

"I will have to make a decision next summer and when I do so, it will be for lifestyle reasons, not just financial ones."

O'Driscoll is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and is unlikely to return to action until December.

He is making good progress after being stretchered off in the opening seconds of the first Lions Test against New Zealand in June.[/b]
good luck to him. i reckon he's better of at biarritz than at leinster. Otherwise the greates centre ireland has ever seen will finish his career having won nothing other than a triple crown.
If he eventually joins a French side I think he will receive a big support from the French public whatever club he plays for.

At the moment I am a bit dubious about all this buzz around this hypothetical move to France. From a financial point of view I think that moving to London Wasps for example would be more profitable.

Let's wait and see.
Originally posted by DonBilly@Sep 27 2005, 03:58 PM
I think that moving to London Wasps for example would be more profitable.
Screw that...if he wants to play in his native green every week then there is only one club in England he should join.

And it's not London Irish.
The pace seems to be gathering with this story, firstly Biarritz claim they have been in contract talks with Brian O'Driscoll, thought they'd have to negotiate with the IRFU and not the player himself. And now O'Driscoll has denied the claims saying he's a leinster player for the foreseeable future, or maybe till June at least.

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