No regrets for home bird Sid
DRAGONS v BAYONNE (Tomorrow, KO 8.10pm)
THIS weekend could see Mike Phillips lining up for Bayonne, Aled Brew turning out for Biarritz, Luke Charteris and James Hook in action for Perpignan, Gethin Jenkins in the colours of Toulon and Lee Byrne wearing number 15 for Clermont Auvergne.
And all the Welsh stars that have been tempted over La Manche to play in the Top 14 could have been following in the footsteps of Robert Sidoli.
The 33-year-old lock – last season’s Newport Gwent Dragons player of the year – caught the eye of French giants Toulouse and Perpignan.
The offers on the table may not have been of the size of those that are lining the pockets of current Welsh internationals, but nonetheless they had to be considered.
In the end Sidoli, capped 42 times by Wales, opted to stay at home and he is the first to utter the words: ‘Je ne regrette rien’.
He said: “I did come close (to going over) but didn’t take it for personal reasons. Do I have any regrets? No.
“I’ve enjoyed my rugby CV – I loved Pontypridd, my Celtic Warriors year, the Blues, my time in England with Bristol and I love it here at the Dragons.
“I like being at home but I think it’s brilliant for the boys that have gone over to France.
“Any opportunity to develop is great and they have also been quite honest about the financial reasons.
“If you get the opportunity to go somewhere and get paid better for something you love doing then you are going to take it.”
Sidoli has had plenty of jousts with the French and is looking forward to tomorrow evening’s showdown with Bayonne.
As ever against heavy-set opponents from over the Channel, the lock will be in the thick of it.
He is hopeful that the Dragons can claim another Top 14 scalp after last season’s memorable victory against Perpignan but believes the tag of the French being poor travelers is a lazy stereotype.
“Going to France is a measure of you as a team but also as an individual,” he said. “You have to be brave out there.
“Their mindset at home is that they give nothing away and it’s not that they don’t care when they go away but that mindset eases.
“If a team can get on top of them straight away then as a force they MIGHT not be the same, whereas at home they want to win at all costs.
“But I think the last four or five years that mindset has changed a bit. It’s a professional sport and French teams have to travel and win in their set-up (with Top 14 relegation).”