Given the news that Josh Charnley has returned to rugby league, we look at whether or not making the choice to return makes you a success.
The most relevant story is the one of Sam Burgess. The forward joined Bath right after he won the 2014 NRL Grand Final with the South Sydney Rabbitohs only to rejoin them after the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup. He has scored 10 tries in 44 games since returning, meaning he has a slightly lower Tries to game ratio. He had a 27% scoring rate when he left and 22% now.
In this country, Josh Jones recently did the same thing. He left St Helens in 2015 to join the Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership. He returned to Salford a Red Devils just a couple of months later and hadn’t even played a game for the Chiefs.
It led some rugby union commentators to say rugby league players haven’t got it in them to play rugby union. Personally, I would say the money was a big factor.
Years ago, it was the other way with players switching union for league, especially considering rugby league was the professional sport at the time. Union didn’t become professional until 1995.
Some of the best rugby union players in the country at the time ended up having a career in league because of the financial factor. For example, Jonathan Davies was a Wales great, but played most of his rugby for Widnes, Warrington and then down under for Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys.
And Tom van Vollenhoven, who was born in South Africa, a country with no real rugby league heritage, became one of the games greatest players during his 11 year stint at St Helens. He scored an eye-watering 392 tries in 402 games for the Saints.
Summing up, you cannot stop players chasing where the money is. The fact of the matter is, there is a lot more money in rugby union and at the end of the day, these players want to create a decent life for themselves and their families. On those grounds, Charnley will not be the last player to test the waters of union and then come back.
Who could be next, either going or coming back? Let us know in the comments!