Toby Booth on ‘harsh reality’ as another star leaves Wales

Ospreys boss Toby Booth has reflected on the “harsh reality” of Welsh rugby’s economic climate after French second division club Provence swooped to sign Wales star George North.

The 31-year-old center for the Ospreys, who has scored 47 tries and earned 119 games for Wales, will join current Wales prop Tomas Francis on his two-year contract in southern France next summer.

North will be available to Wales head coach Warren Gatland after joining Provence. He joins French teams alongside World Cup colleagues Francis, Dan Biggar, Henry Thomas, and Will Rowlands.

Liam Williams and Gareth Anscombe, two other World Cup players, are with the Japanese sides Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath and Kubota Spears, respectively. They won’t be able to attend the Six Nations this season.

Head coach Booth stated on the Ospreys’ official website, “We will be sad to see George go. It is really regrettable when you lose top talent like George.”

“Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality we are encountering in Welsh rugby at this time.

“The economic constraints we are currently facing mean that while we strive to retain our premium talent, finances mean that sometimes we will be unable to.

“Going ahead, our key goal is to keep a group with a balanced depth that can meet the expectations we have set for the Ospreys.

Having said that, we respect George’s decision to go and hope Provence will be a great place for him and his family.

Next season, each of Wales’ four professional regions—the Ospreys, Dragons, Cardiff, and Scarlets—will have a £4.5 million budget cut.

While the Top 14 French teams now operate under a £9.2 million constraint, the Gallagher Premiership pay ceiling will increase to £6.4 million for 2024–25.


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