3 cheers as Dan sees the Biggar picture [South Wales Evening Post (Wales)]
(South Wales Evening Post (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) CREDIT where credit's due -- the bird didn't fly, didn't want to even if there were attempts to prise open the cage door.
No-one could have blamed Dan Biggar had he opted to take Racing Metro's money and headed off to Paris as fast as he could. With a year left on his contract, he would have needed the Ospreys' consent, of course, but Biggar didn't even ask for it. Probably didn't even think of asking for it.
Yet this is the player who just a couple of months ago was being jeered by a section of the Ospreys' support. The same player who has seen his Test career stall after initially being viewed as Wales's fly-half for the next decade.
If anyone had a right to feel disgruntled with his lot in Wales it was Biggar.
But here he is, committing himself to the Ospreys and to Welsh rugby at a time when French clubs appear to be printing their own money and throwing it the way of Welsh players. Morriston-born, he has judged that now isn't right for him to be uprooting and leaving his friends and family behind.
Racing's cash must have been tempting, especially for a 22-year- old, but Biggar has stuck by the region that brought him through and it wouldn't go amiss for the Liberty crowd to give him an extra cheer in the game against the Dragons on Friday evening. Let's hear it for the boy.
The Ospreys have rightfully celebrated Adam Jones's decision to sign a new contract but Biggar's decision to remain part of the scene is also a positive.
It shows that money isn't everything to the modern player.
The esteem in which players like Adam Jones, Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones and Ryan Jones are held underlines that loyalty still counts for something.
Biggar has never been anything other than a youngster trying to do all he could for his home region.
True, he hasn't yet managed to work out how to turn water into wine or heal the sick, but nor has Rhys Priestland and he is still hugely valued.
Maybe it is time to start appreciating Biggar: points machine, game-controller, relentless kicker out of hand, local boy, decent bloke off the pitch.
That said, it is impossible to criticise anyone for taking the money that is on offer in France. The Welsh regions can't compete and nor should they try to, for that is the quickest route to Skid Row.
What is needed is for the Welsh Rugby Union to do something -- anything -- to assist the four professional sides. The longer it takes them to act the more they deserve to forfeit the respect of the rugby public in Wales.
Is forcing players to choose between heading abroad and playing for Wales the answer? If it isn't, the union need to explain why.
It isn't enough to be content that a continued exodus will free up places for youngsters. People enjoy witnessing the exuberance of youth, but they also want to see stellar players, playing for teams who are competitive at the top level.
Every week seems to bring news of fresh interest from France. Days ago, the suggestion was that Alex Cuthbert could earn around Pounds 300,000 a year by switching to Racing. As long as he can continue to play for Wales, why shouldn't the Gloucester-born wing cash in his chips? He is at a region that appears to be having a nervous breakdown. What is to dissuade him from leaving? Loyalty, perhaps. There again, at the Blues he has never been in any danger of making the Sunday Times Rich List, with his basic salary at the region reportedly just Pounds 5,000 a month ago. Until recently, he has been driving around in a Renault Clio and staying in student digs. Of course, he is going to be tempted by the chance to earn big money.
No two players' circumstances are the same, though, and Jonathan Davies's decision to stick with the Scarlets is also massively significant. He put it down to Wales being an ideal place to develop as a player, and the superb environment created by Nigel Davies no doubt helped as well.
Players seem to want to play for the West Walians, with George North another who is in no hurry to move on. He and Jonathan Davies do not just seem bound to the Scarlets by contracts. Their hearts also seem tied to the region and that is arguably more important.
Sport is real life and no-one can ever blame players for trying to better themselves.
Equally, we shouldn't be afraid to celebrate those who opt to stay at home. In the current climate, every bit of good news is worth savouring.
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