Bayfield may join Bath

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The Independent Online
Much to Bath's satisfaction, the Lions lock, Martin Bayfield - about to win his 22nd England cap - has told them that if Northampton are relegated he will be joining them next season, writes Steve Bale. "It's true the club have been in detailed discussions with him," a Bath spokesman said last night.

This means his signature is still awaited, which in turn means his availability for league and cup rugby would be delayed at least until November. In any case, with Northampton playing their fellow relegation candidates, Harlequins, a week tomorrow, the projected transfer is heavily conditional.

But if he did make the move, it would be a coup of the biggest significance for the champions, what with Bayfield standing 6ft 10in. Quite apart from the England man's stature, the club is concerned about the future of their Scotland lock, Andy Reed, after a back operation.

Bath's recruitment extends beyond Bayfield to Keith Wood, who two months ago was the most exciting new forward in the Five Nations' Championship but has since lost his place as Ireland's hooker to Terry Kingston and has been carrying a persistent shoulder injury. The club are working on the premise that Graham Dawe, 35, cannot carry on for ever and Wood, who plays in Limerick for Garryowen, has already signed his transfer form.