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French clubs boosted by deal

French clubs will go into this weekend's final round of Heineken Cup pool games buoyed by news of a lucrative new television deal.

The five-year arrangement with Canal+ to screen Top 14 games live is worth just under £60million a year, and will commence next season.

It dwarfs other deals elsewhere in the European club game and is almost double the existing French Top 14 television contract.

The Ligue Nationale de Rugby, the top French clubs' umbrella organisation, described it as "the most important agreement for club competition in world rugby."

The substantial revenue increase will inevitably increase French clubs' spending power in the player transfer market.

Several former United-Kingdom based players currently ply their trade in France, including the likes of England 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton and Wales internationals such as Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate.

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