Board questions French payments

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The International Rugby Board reacted rapidly yesterday to further revelations of professionalism within the game by asking the French federation for an explanation over claims by a Scot that he is paid to play in France.

Kevin Campbell, the former Hawick flanker who has been playing in France for the past eight years, has admitted he receives £800 a month "win, lose or draw" from Mandelieu la Napoule, a First Division club near Cannes, and that payments are rife across the Channel.

Although a communique from the Scottish Rugby Union asking for an investigation into the claims had yet to reach the IRB, the Board's secretary, Keith Rowlands, said yesterday that newspaper reports had resulted in immediate steps being taken to contact the French authorities.

"We've not heard from the Scots, though it maybe that a letter has not yet arrived here," Rowlands said. "But I'm actually looking at the Independent as we speak and we'll be contacting the FFR this very day. We would expect a response from them fairly quickly."

With amateurism to be discussed by the Board at next month's annual meeting in Bristol, Rowlands said: "The amateur regulations are under enormous pressure, of course, at this moment in time and we are awaiting a paper from a working party covering the whole subject."

While there was no official reaction from the FFR to Campbell's revelations, Pierre Berbizier, the French coach, said: "It's not as if it's a great discovery. There's money everywhere in rugby now and it is time to stop the hypocrisy."

Berbizier was backed up by the president of Bourges, the French club that Damian Cronin, Scotland's lock in Paris on Saturday, plays for. "Professionalism is rife," Serge Nonin said. Cronin, though, can rest easy. "Except for us," Nonin, a 47-year-old lawyer, concluded. "We are amateur."

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