Robinson becomes latest to join full-time brigade

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

DAVID LLEWELLYN

Andy Robinson, the Bath flanker, has decided to become a full-time professional rugby union player. He will be joining the likes of Tony Underwood, Dean Richards and Martin Bayfield who have all decided to turn their one-time hobby into their primary source of income.

Robinson, who won his eighth England cap against South Africa last November, was 32 yesterday but he feels there is life in the old dog yet. "I have thought long and hard about it," Robinson, who is director of sport at Colston's Collegiate in Bristol, said. "I've only got a limited lifetime playing-wise. There are at least two seasons left in me and going full time will give more scope for training, preparation and coaching.

"I've got ambitions on the coaching side, although I could never see myself playing for any club other than Bath."

Robinson, who was recently appointed as assistant England Under-21 coach to Clive Woodward, has masterminded Colston's to two successive triumphs in the national Daily Mail Under-18 Schools' Cup and he was recently offered the Bristol coaching job. Even though he turned it down, Bristol are reported to be keen to sign him up.

Robinson and the rest of the Bath squad are on the brink of signing contracts with Bath, who envisage a wage bill next season approaching pounds 1.3m to support a 30-man squad. The internationals are expected to earn between pounds 60,000 and pounds 70,000 per year, but to ensure there is no squabbling the club has a confidentiality clause in the contracts which prohibits players from discussing contract details with either the media or other Bath players.

Whether the money on offer at Bath will be enough to keep the likes of Ben Clarke, the England back-row forward, is debatable. Richmond, of the Third Division, are reported to have offered him a five-year deal at pounds 150,000 per year. However the sense of loyalty and the taste of success at Bath are two very good reasons why Clarke may turn his back on a fortune and instead seek fame with Bath.

n Queensland went to the top of the Super-12 table yesterday with a convincing 36-26 win over Western Province. They raced to a 25-6 half-time lead and earned a bonus point for scoring five tries in the match.

n Llanelli had to wait until the final minute to reach their goal of maximum bonus points at Abertillery last night when Matthew Wintle crossed for his second try to finally kill off the stubborn home team and confirm a 39-29 win for the Scarlets.

The victory means they move from fourth place to second in Heineken League, although the leaders, Neath, equalled the League record score in their 95-17 win over Aberavon in last night's other game. The record mark of 95 points had only just been set by Abertillery against Cardiff on Saturday.

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