RFU in talking mood

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The Independent Online
Right now the Rugby Football Union has so many antagonists that it has a vested interest in believing it's good to talk and Tony Hallett, the Union's secretary, believes yesterday's talks with Sir John Hall have averted the threat of legal action, writes Steve Bale.

Now that his business interests control Newcastle RFC, Sir John has his own vested interest in removing the RFU's 120-day qualification for transferred players. He is impatient to accommodate Rob Andrew, Dean Ryan, Steve Bates, Tony Underwood, Doddie Weir and Gary Armstrong in his side.

Hence the legal threat, which the RFU considers carries no weight as long as their moratorium on professionalism exists, ie, the rest of the season. "He speaks in uncompromising terms about the future of rugby, but this is leavened by a wish to see only the best for the game," the emollient Hallett said after the meeting. However, he did add: "The registration regulations for this season must remain, as the RFU has already stated."

Newcastle would also prefer to avoid relegation from the Second Division, an eventuality increasingly contingent on whether the National Clubs' Association, of which they are a member, agrees that there should be none when the division is expanded from 10 to 14 clubs. So far, the NCA has been unable to reach an agreed decision.

David Sole, the former Scotland captain, is being carpeted by the Scottish Rugby Union for remarks about the referee that followed Melrose's win over Edinburgh Academicals on Saturday. A series of penalties awarded against Accies by Colin Henderson, a Borders referee, culminated in the winning try in injury-time.

"That was tantamount to cheating," Sole, these days the Accies coach, said after the match.

Initially, the Union is to write to him demanding an explanation, though yesterday Sole was unrepentant. "Having had time to reflect, I still feel we were cheated of victory."

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