Cash bonus is the carrot for Wales

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Honour and glory no longer sufficing now that international rugby union has gone overtly professional, the Welsh players will be on win bonuses of pounds 1,750 each to halt Scotland on the third leg of their quest for the Grand Slam at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

The Scots have no such direct incentive, however, and Rob Wainwright, their captain, suggested yesterday that it would after all be more traditional virtues that would be decisive. "The matter of Welsh win bonuses is irrelevant," he said. "Players don't think about money on the pitch; at least I'm confident Scotland don't, although I can't speak for the opposition."

In any event the Scots believe themselves to have a better contractual deal than Saturday's opponents. Wainwright and his players are on pounds 5,000 seasonal retainers plus a pounds 3,000 match fee, though a further payment of up to pounds 5,500 each is available depending on where Scotland finish in the championship. The basic Welsh match fee is pounds 2,000, and there was no bonus when they lost at Twickenham 12 days ago.

Ireland look increasingly likely to be without Simon Geoghegan when they play France at Parc des Princes but Patrick Johns, moved from No 8 to lock for this match, was yesterday passed fit after injuring a knee during last weekend's training in Dublin. Geoghegan's strained hamstring caused him to miss all the weekend's activities, though he did turn up for treatment.

If Geoghegan fails a fitness test this morning before the team's departure for Paris his place on the right wing will go to Richard Wallace, who had been dropped after the Irish defeat by Scotland. Even if Geoghegan travels, Wallace will accompany the squad to provide cover.

Clubs in England intent on acquiring the best French talent - Olivier Roumat for Wasps? Abdel Benazzi for Northampton or Saracens? - may be interested to hear that France's new flanker, Richard Castel, intends using his introduction to international rugby as a means of finding a new club. "I want to show Toulouse what they have been missing," he said.

So the bidding starts here. Castel, 24, a final-year PE student, is unable to command a place with the French champions, where his regular selection on the bench has raised doubts about his capacity to last the full 80 minutes in an international. Though he produced highly effective performances after taking the field against both Swansea and Cardiff in the European Cup semi-final and final, they were 20-minute cameos.