The deal makes a difficult environment for the Irish provinces even more testing
The RFU and the clubs of the Aviva Premiership have signed a lucrative new deal that is set to benefit both parties, and may well make Eddie Jones' England side even stronger.
The eight-year deal is worth over £200 million, and will see the financial success of the England team trickle down to the clubs of the Premiership.
Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby Limited (PRL) have agreed to the deal, which they describe as "groundbreaking," and will see a guaranteed amount of £112 million split between the teams across the first four years.
That figure could increase for the second four-year period of the deal, depending on how the teams perform.
In a statement about the deal, Mark McCafferty, CEO of PRL said: "The significantly increased monies to the Premiership clubs, alongside their own increased TV and commercial revenues, will ensure that Aviva Premiership Rugby continues to go from strength-to- strength based on world-class England Qualified Players and a very strong academy pipeline of talent.
"In addition, this is intended to underpin further European success."
That last phrase is certainly something that would put Irish clubs on high alert, given how they fared last season in the Champions Cup, but also coupled with the worrying figures released by the IRFU recently in which they issued a number of warnings, notably that the IRFU can't keep bailing out the provinces.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Aside from the obvious financial gain that the Premiership clubs get, the English national team has also gotten some of what they wanted out of the deal.
Eddie Jones will now be able to call 45 players into his squad, and take 36 of them into camp. Those camps will also increase around some of the biggest competitions on the calendar, most notably "prior to the RBS 6 Nations in the first week in January." The statement also adds that "no players will be released back to clubs in the preparation week," meaning they will miss club action for the benefit of the national side.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Furthermore, players who play a certain amount of minutes for England in the Six Nations will also be given a break in the four weeks following the tournament, and the same will apply for payers who go over the amount of minutes in the November internationals.
There will also be increased money sent to the academies of clubs, with academy licences awarded to an additional 14 professional clubs, providing an even wider net to funnel into the pipeline of talent in the country.
All of this should make very worrying reading for Irish rugby, who have specifically cited that there were struggling when it came to wages being offered by English and French clubs, where the salary cap will be £6.5m and £8.6m respectively, according to Wales Online.
With a strong finish to the season from the national team, England look very well placed to build on the progress already made under Jones' short tenure in the coming years with this deal in place.
The clubs will look to use their already impressive financial power to start dominating Europe, the knock on effects of which will be felt by Irish provinces, who could struggle to reach the heights that they have in recent years.
Money isn't everything, of course, but it certainly helps, and there's no doubt that a difficult path ahead for the IRFU just became that bit more difficult to navigate.