Peter Jackson: Dan Carter winning at numbers game

Even allowing for his status as the Michelangelo of fly halves, Dan Carter will be very pleasantly surprised at the numbers behind his first gallop with Racing, writes Peter Jackson.
Peter Jackson: Dan Carter winning at numbers game

They take some crunching, appropriately so given the Parisians’ crushing of Northampton. Carter is now worth so much that his earning power on Saturday works out at €793.65 a minute, maybe more.

A calculator applied to some rudimentary accountancy confirms the New Zealander’s second coming in the European Cup as infinitely more rewarding than the first, with Perpignan seven years ago. And they forked out €700,000 for six months work or, as it turned out, five matches before he ruptured an Achilles tendon.

Racing pay him €1.7m per season. Over a 30-match campaign that amounts to €55,000 per game, or fractionally under €50,000 per game for a total of 35 — not that anyone plays that many these days.

The minute-by-minute rate on the 30-match basis runs at €873 which makes the €793.65 calculated on a 35-match season seem almost as if he is being short-changed.

Whatever the exact figure, Carter’s 63 minutes on Saturday added up to the most rewarding for any player in the history of the sport. When the game finally banished the sham of the brown envelope and came clean in Paris in 1995, nobody would have dreamt that 20 years later in the same city one man would earn at least €50,000 for an hour’s effort, with three minutes overtime added for good measure.

While Michelangelo might not have got anywhere near that for painting the Sistine Chapel, Carter’s deal at Racing seems like a lorry load of peanuts compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s at Real Madrid.

His basic pay, estimated at £26.5m, is 20 times more than Carter’s pay but then they cater for 80,000 at the Bernabeu. Racing barely managed 8,000 at Colombes for the advent of rugby’s Pied Piper.

There is no doubt he will pack them in wherever Racing pitch their big top, provided he stays in one piece. Carter’s heavily bandaged right leg prompted his Welsh half-back partner, the irascible Mike Phillips, to speculate that the strapping helped protect all the cash.

When he arrived in Perpignan in December 2008, the locals greeted him as if an Old Testament prophet had appeared in their midst to work a few miracles. The rugby gods put a stop to that after five matches by way of a serious injury.

If he stays in one piece this time round, few will bet against Racing going the distance. “I love doing things that no-one has done before,” Carter, a modest, self-effacing man, said in September, referring to the challenge of back-to-back World Cup victories.

Well, he certainly did something no-one had done in making money talk like never before. Who’s to say he won’t finish the season doing something no Paris club has done, like winning the Champions Cup?

Provinces silenced by Anglo-French monopoly

So the guillotine has duly fallen on Leinster, victims of the fastest knock-out the tournament has seen. No heavyweight champion can have been chinned as rapidly since Mike Tyson stopped Michael Spinks nearly 30 years ago in 91 seconds, including the count.

It will get a whole lot worse in Leicester next Sunday unless Munster climb off the canvas and dump the Tigers there instead. Whatever their fate, the former double champions are left to confront an alarming reality — that their decline has stripped Thomond Park of its invincible aura.

As Leicester showed, it doesn’t frighten the big English teams the way it used to, most famously during the ‘Miracle Match’ against Gloucester in 2003 when the old place rocked to a sound and fury that so scrambled English brains they completely lost sight of the fact that a late penalty would still save them.

For sheer mind-bending noise, nothing in my experience ever sounded like the thunder rolling around the King’s Hall in Belfast on Barry McGuigan fight night. Munster’s citadel came closest to an outdoor version in days of yore but now they can’t fill the place.

Ulster, for all their magnificence at Ravenhill on Friday night, must win again in Toulouse next Sunday and then beat the hitherto unbeaten Saracens in London if they are to repair the damage caused by the English champions’ win at Ravenhill.

Only by managing that, and a double over Oyonnax in between, can Ulster preserve the Irish game from a scenario as bleak as any mid-winter — a last eight monopolised by the Anglo-French. That hasn’t happened since before the end of the last century.

During the 18 seasons since the last Irish wipe-out, at least one province has always got there with, glory be, all three making it twice in the last four years.

Scotland missed boat on Fijian hulk Naiyaravoro

New Zealand, Australia, England and France have been more than happy to slap their national jersey on Fijian wings — Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Lote Tuqiri, Samesa Rokoduguni and Noa Nakaitaci.

How Scotland would love to follow suit and wrap Taqele Naiyaravoro up in a suitably large piece of tartan. His impersonation of a latter-day Jonah Lomu on behalf of the Glasgow Warriors put the Pro12 champions back on track, and the Scarlets out for the count.

Naiyaravoro, 24 last week, is the same height as Lomu (6ft 5in), considerably heavier at 19st 9lbs and built like another wrecking ball. No matter how long he stays on the Clyde, the fearsome Warrior can never play for Scotland. Australia beat them to it, capping Naijaravoro as a late sub against the USA in Chicago before the World Cup. Despite scoring from his first touch, the hulking wing missed the cut for the tournament but the nine minutes at Soldier Field will forever prevent him switching allegiance.

Just four European invincibles stand

Twenty teams lined up on the starting grid last month. Now, after just two completed rounds of the six-match pool stage, only four are unbeaten — Saracens, Leicester, Racing and Bath, thanks to George Ford’s touchline conversion against Wasps last night in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Three teams have lost all three matches — Treviso, Scarlets, and Leinster, whose concession of 17 penalties and three yellow cards left them nowhere to go but out. And to think more than 40,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s return against Toulon at the Aviva.

Pair of patriots

Students of Irish history will be interested to learn that the weekend’s European cast featured two of the country’s most revered names — Michael Collins and James Connolly. The 22-year-olds come from opposite ends of the world — Collins from Queenstown in New Zealand, Connolly from Kildare.

Collins, a centre, appeared as a second-half sub in the Scarlets’ lost cause on Clydeside. Connolly, a wing forward, kept Connacht full steam ahead for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, Newcastle joining the long list of those who have bitten the dust in Galway.

Team of the weekend

15 Brice Dulin (Racing), 14 Joe Rokocoko (Racing), 13 Casey Laulala (Racing), 12 Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), 11 Vereniki Goneva (Leicester); 10 Paddy Jackson (Ulster), 9 Ruan Pienaar (Ulster); 1 Eddie Ben Arous (Racing), 2 Rory Best (Ulster), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester); 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps), 5 Leone Nakawara (Glasgow); 6 Francois Louw (Bath), 7 Chris Henry (Ulster), 8 Thomas Waldrom (Exeter).

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