IRFU must now deal with a changed mindset as French crack the Irish code
In France the taxing system is based on a complex matrix where individuals fill in a grid with age, status, income and other factors considered. The bottom line is they enjoy more favourable rates. Sexton will be taxed as a married man after his wedding in July.
French-based players can also take advantage of looser regulations regarding earnings from image rights, which they cannot do in Ireland. In short as Irish taxes increase, France has allowed clubs to set aside 30 per cent of a player’s income as “image rights” and exempt them from the vast array of social taxes and charges.
The agreement of his pitch time with his new club is a pivotal issue for the outhalf and his canny agent Fintan Drury, of Platinum One, may have included that in the agreement.
Sexton is a level-headed individual with sound judgment. He will have considered next year’s French schedule of matches.
French clubs play 26 league games in the French Championship plus three play-off games, if they get through to that stage.
Assuming he plays in either the Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup, that would involve a minimum of six pool games and possibly three play-off phases if they make the final.
Sexton would then play in at least two of the three November Tests for Ireland and in five of the 2014 Six Nations Championship games. That adds up to a season with a potential 42 games.
In the 2011-12 season Sexton lined out 16 times for Leinster and 16 times for Ireland in an unusual year. It included a 2011 World Cup and Test matches in New Zealand last summer. Normally his numbers for played matches in a regular season would be in the mid-20s.
In Wales many players have beaten a path south and it has been hugely problematic. Warren Gatland even travelled to France to see if he could ease his access to Welsh internationals.
While the IRB have specified windows whereby the international players are released, most national teams, including Ireland, organise training sessions outside of that.
Unless Sexton has contracted for that it will be an issue as it has been for Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, James Hook, Luke Charteris and Paul James.
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt, having been with Clermont for several seasons, is steeped in realism but must be hurting. It’s likely Leinster will now have to recruit a world class outhalf because their European pedigree requires it.
Loosehead prop Cian Healy yesterday posted a picture of Ian Madigan, who has stood in at 10 for Leinster many times. It was a photograph of Madigan’s face bearing the words “Chill out, I’ve got it”.
The club may well need some chill in a week they lost Fionn Carr, Andrew Conway and Jonathan Sexton.