Donnacha Ryan, the Ireland and Munster second row, is set to leave his hometown province and join the Top 14 outfit Racing 92 after the IRFU refused to give him a new central contract.
He has been on a central contract since the 2014/15 season but it expires at the end of this campaign.
Rassie Erasmus, the Munster director of rugby, confirmed that Ryan had lost his central contract and the offer of a two-year provincial deal was well below what Racing could offer. While nothing has been confirmed Erasmus said that the deal with Racing is likely to go through in the next few days.
— Devin Toner (@DevinToner4) November 6, 2016
Erasmus said, “I’m disappointed for us but I think we have to be happy for Donnacha [Ryan] if that’s what he wants to do. Obviously he didn’t get a national contract again. We offered him a two-year deal but as I understand, he’s got a much better offer from Racing.”
Unlike Ryan, the IRFU gave Leinster No 8 Jamie Heaslip, also 33, a new three-year central contract earlier this year.
Ryan has been with Munster since he made his debut in 2004 and he has earned a total of 47 caps for Ireland.
A move to France would most likely end his international career as Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is reluctant to select players from outside the four provinces.
Speaking about the IRFU’s decision Erasmus said that he is not annoyed as he understands that budgets are limited.
He also responded to claims in South African news outlets that he may return home saying, “I worked and lived in South Africa as a coach for 16 years and I speak to them weekly, on a formal and informal basis, but at this stage I have a full contract which is three years and it’s just speculation”.