So the news has finally broken that Gareth Anscombe will be leaving Cardiff Blues this summer and going west to the Ospreys, after weeks of a ‘will he, won’t he’ with his contract.
Reaction to the announcement has been mixed, with some having a dig at the player, others at his agent, while the Cardiff Blues and Welsh Rugby Union haven’t escaped criticism, in a story that has been played out too openly, rather than being kept behind closed doors.
Let’s start with Gareth Anscombe himself, as it’s a fairly simple place to start. He wanted to be paid as much as possible as the current starting Wales fly-half, he wanted to play for Wales at the World Cup, and he wanted to play as much rugby at 10 as possible.
There have been comments regarding his loyalty but he was open throughout that a rugby career is short and he needs to do what is right for him. Romanticism is a wonderful thing, but there’s not a lot of space for it in professional sport.
Anscombe should be thanked for his time as a Cardiff Blues player, and I wish him the best in a red jersey, although you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not too fussed about how he gets on wearing black!
Then it’s on to the club and things get a bit more complicated.
Unfortunately I can’t shed any light on what we had budgeted for Anscombe’s new contract back before March, but certainly since his stock rose considerably on the back of the Six Nations we were never really in the right league money-wise.
The truth is that money is very tight at the Cardiff Blues currently, and the board felt a new contract for the fly-half would not represent value for money with him missing most of next season with the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations.
John Mulvihill was understandably keen to keep a player of Anscombe’s quality, so as a result we went to the Welsh Rugby Union to see if we could get funding to re-sign the player.
That was going on in the background while an appeal went to the Professonial Rugby Board from agent Derwyn Jones over his client’s wage banding. That appeal was so that they could sign a contract with the Ospreys, there was nothing on the table from Cardiff Blues at the time.
When the appeal was rejected it appears there was some hope Anscombe might still stay on a reduced contract, but the Ospreys were always the favourites and that has now been confirmed.
On a Cardiff Blues level we probably should have called off the pursuit earlier and had a chance at someone like Rhys Priestland to provide cover to Jarrod Evans, but it is what it is and now we have to move forwards (pun intended) with next season’s recruitment.
That shall form the basis of the next opinion blog!