The Breakdown | From Aaron Cruden to Ma’a Nonu: are big-money rugby signings worth it?

High-profile signings in France and beyond have been driven by owners rather than coaches, but Covid-19 may change that

“We hoped for something else.” The words spoken by the Montpellier owner, Mohed Altrad, after he had released the New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden eight months early would be a fitting title for a book on the big-name signings made by clubs in France and England over the years.

Cruden, who joined Super Rugby’s Chiefs this year, was reportedly paid an annual £700,000 by Montpellier, whose ambitions are funded by Altrad rather than the income generated by a club that have one of the lowest average attendances in the Top 14. Not bad for someone who for most of his international career was second choice, first to Dan Carter and then to Beauden Barrett.

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