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Cross-code transfers in Rugby – Will the Denny Solomona case set a new precedent?

Rugby player on the field with ball
Friday, 13 January 2017 By James Hill

Cross-code transfers have been a feature of the Rugby League / Rugby Union dichotomy for decades. However, Denny Solomona's recent controversial move of officially retiring from the Super League’s Castleford Tigers to sign a new contract with the English Premiership’s Sale Sharks[1] sets a new precedent. Castleford have now commenced proceedings in the High Court against Solomona, his agent and Sale Sharks. The case could arguably affect cross-code transfers in the way that the Bosman ruling affected football back in the 1990s.[2]

This article examines the key legal issues arising out of Solomona’s case, namely:

  • The factual background;
  • The prospect of success of Castleford's claims against Solomona for breach of contract;
  • The prospects of success of Castleford's claims against Sale Sharks and Solomona's agent, Andrew Clarke, for inducing breach of contract; and
  • The impact that the case may have on future cross code moves and any processes which may be put in place to prevent moves being forced through in a similar manner.

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James Hill

James Hill

James is an associate specialising in commercial litigation and regulatory matters in the sports sector - in particular football, rugby, cricket and cycling - advising governing bodies, clubs, athletes, agencies and brands.  Prior to Onside Law, James trained and qualified at Fieldfisher in the Dispute Resolution department.

His practice encompasses High Court and County Court litigation, international and domestic arbitration, sports disciplinary proceedings and regulatory investigations.  Regular work includes contractual disputes, sports disciplinary proceedings, governing body investigations, breaches of post-termination restrictive covenants, claims for inducing breach of contract, insolvency claims, defamation and intellectual property infringements.

He also has experience advising clients on commercial agreements, drafting rules and regulations for governing bodies, advising agents and players on representation contracts and advising clubs and agents on playing contracts and transfers.

Away from the office, James is a Millwall season ticket holder and keen cyclist since injury brought his rugby playing days to an end.

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