Richmond money talks

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

Richmond, the hallowed London club who by their own admission have been too long asleep, yesterday roused themselves sufficiently to sign two Welsh half-backs for next season and set a monetary benchmark for others tempted to join professional rugby union's nascent transfer system. They expect the Bath and England forward Ben Clarke to be next.

Neither Adrian Davies nor Andy Moore, who faced each other in the 1990 University match for Cambridge and Oxford respectively, is currently Wales' first choice. But they are Cardiff's - Davies to the frustration of the reluctant centre Jonathan Davies - and together represent a significant first stage in the rebuilding of Richmond. The connection was made by Davies's younger brother Lloyd, who is already at the club.

The 27-year-old half-backs' departure from the most prestigious Welsh club to a member of the Courage Third Division sends a devastating message that the financial incentives on offer in England cannot be matched in Wales. Already Neath's Llewellyn brothers have signed for London clubs, Gareth for Harlequins and Glyn for Wasps.

Davies and Moore have each agreed five-year contracts with Richmond worth up to an annual pounds 60,000 to become full-time rugby players. Davies will cease to be a surveyor and Moore to be involved in the family building company.

Richmond's chief executive, Symon Elliott, said his recruitment programme would add a director of rugby and at least half a dozen players to the squad who had already assured the club of promotion.

Though Moore has four caps and Davies nine, they have played together for Wales only once - the World Cup game against Japan last May. In fact, Davies has seldom fulfilled himself internationally and Moore this season lost his scrum-half place to the exceptional Robert Howley.

"With European rugby going through enormous change, I want to be part of a club that has a strong tradition but sees professionalism as a real opportunity for the game," Moore said. The curious thing was he was not talking about Cardiff.

Cardiff have tried to persuade them to stay, but the club - even though they have the Welsh 's permission to become a limited company - have nothing like the cash that is available to Richmond Ltd, which has inserted contractual clauses releasing both players for Wales duties.

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