MUNSTER INSIST THEY understand the IRFU’s decision not to award Donnacha Ryan a new central contract, with the lock now set to move to Racing 92 next season.
The province’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, said that Munster’s offer to Ryan came up short of what the wealthy Top 14 club had presented and expressed disappointment at what now looks like his certain departure this summer.
Erasmus also said that Munster will attempt to recruit in the second row after losing Ryan to Racing.
Ryan at Munster training yesterday afternoon. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO
Interestingly, Racing have not confirmed the signing of Ryan and it is understood that he has yet to completely copper-fasten his move.
However, a pre-contract has been signed and it would be a surprise if the Ireland international backed out at this stage.
The contract offer from Munster – funded by the IRFU, as with all provincial contracts – is thought to have come close to €300,000 per season when bonuses and incentives were factored in.
Racing’s contract is likely to rise above that and may even end up being higher than €400,000 per season when similar bonus payments are taken into account. Ryan will certainly be improving his annual earnings with a move to the Parisian club on a two-year deal.
While there has been general surprise and dismay in Ireland at news of Ryan’s exit, it’s understood that the lock has previously considered leaving Munster and even initiated discussions with the IRFU around a year ago about leaving the province early.
A well-educated and interesting character, Ryan has always been passionate about playing for Munster, but the prospect of sampling a new lifestyle and rugby culture is also an attractive part of Racing’s proposition.
Whatever about the reasoning for Ryan’s impending departure to France – these things always being multi-faceted – the loss will be a blow to Munster, given his experience and form in the second row this season.
“I guess if we had more money then we could have kept him,” said Erasmus yesterday. “I don’t think it’s a matter of Donnacha chasing money. I think it’s a tough situation for a guy like him, he is 33-years-old.
Ryan with Billy Holland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
“I don’t want to speak on behalf of him, but I’m sure he will say the same when you get to chat him – he has probably got one big contract left in him. Rugby players just have a short-ish lifespan, earning enough money.
“We gave him an offer of two years and obviously a team like Racing has got more money, and I think he had to make a career decision, which has not been confirmed yet.
“Obviously, when he loses his national contract the whole cost comes back to Munster which unfortunately we can’t afford to try and match that. He knows we wanted to keep him and we really tried our best.
“I guess it is one of those things where you must be happy for him. If that’s what he wants to do, he served this club well, he has done great things for this club. Guys move on, you have to respect that and wish them all the best.”
The IRFU have faced criticism in recent days over their decision not to extend Ryan’s national contract beyond the end of this season.