Bayfield to turn full-time

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

Even without the added value of being paid at club level, the England lock Martin Bayfield considers the new money available enough to make it worth his while going full-time. Yesterday he disclosed his intention to take a long career break from Bedfordshire Constabulary.

Bayfield, 28, is in the fortunate position of being eligible to take a five-year sabbatical and re-enlist at the same level at which he leaves. Nice work if you can get it, as is the minimum of pounds 40,000 the England players have been guaranteed for this season though the Rugby Football Union has placed a moratorium on club payments at least until next season. "For me to take a sabbatical is a great idea rugby-wise, but of course while I'm doing it I've got to get paid," he said yesterday.

A sabbatical has also made sense to England's No 8, Dean Richards, though his absence from the Leicestershire force is intended to last only 18 months.

The 40 French First Division clubs have decided against full professionalism, but this is not equivalent to the RFU's club moratorium since they were already semi-professional. Toulouse, the champions, freely admit to paying around pounds 1,300 per man per month even pre-IB.

n Pat Whelan, the former international hooker, has been appointed manager of Ireland. Whelan, who has served for a selector for the past two years, takes over from Noel Murphy, who has retired after three years.

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