Richardson call for loyalty vow

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of Hull, Shane Richardson, has called for Super League clubs to sign 10-year loyalty pledges that they will not switch to rugby union.

Richardson's rallying call comes after Peter Wheeler, his opposite number at Leicester, claimed in Australia that several Super League clubs were thinking of changing codes. Leeds and St Helens already have rugby union links, while Wigan and Bradford have had informal exchanges of ideas with Leicester.

But Richardson said: "We will never play rugby union at this club. People should come out now and say where they stand and that this idea of going to union is crap.

"You can't sit on the fence on this one. You're on the side of rugby league or of rugby union. Unless people are willing to commit to rugby league in the form of a 10-year loyalty contract, they should tell their fans now."

The Rugby Football League's board of directors, which includes the chairman of Bradford and of Super League, Chris Caisley, discussed Wheeler's claim yesterday, and the RFL's chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, said: "It has been clear to those of us involved in rugby league for some time that rugby union has admired the success and quality of our game – and any interest is therefore not surprising."

Wigan's 20-year-old prop, Gareth Dean, who has yet to play a first-team game, is the surprise inclusion in Wales' 18-man squad to play England at Wrexham on 31 July.

England's young players have had mixed fortunes on the opening day of their tour in New Zealand. The Under-18s beat Northern Districts in Auckland 40-18, but the Under-16s lost their first-ever international against the Junior Kiwis 20-4.

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