Rebel players suspend action

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Rugby Union

South Africa's 14 rebel rugby union players agreed yesterday to suspend their campaign for improved pay and benefits until the International Rugby Board discusses the issue next month.

"At this stage we have reached an agreement that suits both parties," said the centre and stand-off half, Hennie le Roux, one of the group of 13 Springboks, who also plays for Transvaal province.

"We understand that the Transvaal union cannot commit to anything until after the August meeting [of the IRB]," Le Roux said.

The row erupted on Monday when the players refused to take part in a Transvaal training session until their proposals for a new pay structure and greater financial security had been addressed by the provincial union.

The union rejected the proposals and expelled le Roux and three others, prompting the whole group to make themselves unavailable for selection for the team that will open Transvaal's defence of their Currie Cup title today.

The South African Rugby Football Union on Thursday condemned the action and urged the players to reconsider. The SARFU president, Louis Luyt, also heads the Transvaal union.

"The provincial players have resolved the dispute and expressed regret to Dr Luyt and the union for their actions and statements," SARFU said in a statement yesterday.

"They concede their request may have been premature and eagerly await the outcome of the International Board's discussions on amateurism in August. The players have pledged their loyalty to Transvaal rugby."

It said Luyt had given "a clear assurance that there will be no recriminations. . . Bygones will emphatically be bygones".

The statement said all Transvaal players would attend training on Monday but the second- string team to play Eastern Province today would not be changed.

Le Roux said: "All we wanted was fair representation and for our views to be heard. . . It involves every player worldwide."