Rugby Union: Brittle wants clarification over Sky deal

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The Independent Online
England's controversial pounds 87.5m television deal with BSkyB has suffered a technical hitch but Twickenham yesterday insisted the show must go on.

Cliff Brittle, the Rugby Football Union management board chairman, has moved to allay fears that the plug could be pulled on live satellite coverage of England's Test match against New Zealand next week.

Sky bought exclusive live rights to all of England's home internationals over the next five years, yet Brittle is unhappy with some contract clauses. He is seeking clarification of the contract, but claims that Sky have rejected requests for immediate talks.

However, Brittle said: "The RFU would like to make it clear that it wishes to maintain a good relationship with its broadcast partner.

"The RFU has no intention of doing anything other than to comply fully with its contractual obligations with regard to broadcasting forthcoming internationals."

Some RFU officials who negotiated and signed the deal last year, however, are no longer in power at Twickenham.

The RFU yesterday confirmed Phil Larder's appointment as full-time coaching adviser. Larder, the former Great Britain and England rugby league coach, will start his new job on Monday after helping the England coach, Clive Woodward, prepare for last weekend's Old Trafford Test against New Zealand and today's game against South Africa at Twickenham.

The 52-year-old will work with players identified by Woodward, while also visiting clubs throughout the country and organising coaching courses.

Larder, whose post was rubber-stamped by the RFU management board yesterday, played rugby union for Loughborough University, Manchester and Sale before switching codes in 1968.

His league career featured spells with Oldham and Whitehaven but it was in coaching that he made his name.

Larder, the Rugby League's first director of coaching, has also worked in league with Widnes, Keighley Cougars and Sheffield Eagles, took England to the 1995 World Cup final and saw Great Britain win eight of their 12 Tests during his time in charge.