Rowell joins the England team payroll

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

HUGH BATESON

The most recent performance of their charges may have been distinctly amateurish, but now Jack Rowell and the rest of the England management team are to follow the players into the professional world.

The Rugby Football Union announced yesterday that Rowell, his assistant coach, Les Cusworth, and the selector Mike Slemen would all be entitled to a share of the pay-out - expected to be in the region of pounds 1.5m - this season to the international squad, who made an unimpressive start to their campaign in Saturday's defeat by South Africa at Twickenham.

Rowell welcomed the principle behind the move, even though it is not about to cause a major change in his lifestyle. "Money from rugby never interested me, and I even gave up my career at the start of the year to devote the necessary time to this job of manager," the former chief executive of Golden Wonder said. "But now that the players are being paid it would be anomalous if the men who were telling them what to do did not also receive something. Some of my colleagues were starting to become sensitive about it."

The players are due to sign their contracts shortly, although the precise amount each will earn will not be revealed by the RFU. "The total outlay, including some money for the A team squad, is well over pounds 1m, and approaches pounds 1.5m," Tony Hallett, the RFU secretary, said. "But we are not stating what each player is to earn. There will be a sliding scale based on appearances, bench duty and so on."

The squad will be called in for further training sessions on 28 November and 5 December in the build-up to the Western Samoa international at Twickenham on 16 December. And something of what awaits them can be gleaned from the frosty tone Rowell was still using about the game yesterday. "There were numerous errors, including knock-ons," he said. "The decision-making was bad and the kick-offs were deplorable."

The RFU has also endorsed the principle that clubs should be allowed to issue conditional contracts to their players to come into force at the end of the season. They will be activated if - or more likely when - the union's special meeting in Birmingham on 14 January endorses the recent RFU commission's report advocating that the moratorium of payments and the 120-day qualification is scrapped at the end of April.

n Sir John Hall, the new owner of Newcastle RFC, has been appointed the first chairman of a pressure group for Second Division clubs.

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