Clubs back professionalism

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
England's senior clubs have announced their support for pay-for-play rugby. The National Clubs Association, which represents the 40 clubs in the top four divisions of the Courage League, is backing the Rugby Football Union's efforts to reach financial agreement with the England players.

"We recognise the inevitability of open rugby and we are looking carefully at the implications," the NCA secretary, Alwynne Evans, said.

Twickenham officials will resume talks with England players next week in an attempt to forge a deal which will keep the proposed Kerry Packer professional circus at bay.

There is speculation that the pounds 16,000-per-man the England squad earned last year will be at least quadrupled next season and there could be spin- off benefits for non-internationals, Evans said. "We're exploring all the options, but at the moment we're waiting to see what happens at the International Board meeting next month."

The Scottish Rugby Union has said that it will push for the sport to become professional at the Paris meeting.

The Wallaby Test players, Jason Little and Pat Howard, signed contracts with the Australian Rugby Football Union yesterday, rejecting offers from the Packer organisation. The remaining Australian players are expected to meet in Sydney today to discuss the ARFU and Packer offers.

The Ireland players Terry Kingston, Brendan Mullin, Nick Popplewell, Philip Danaher and Denis McBride have denied that any of their squad members have signed for Packer.