RUGBY LEAGUE: Lindsay suffers body blow

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The Independent Sport
MAURICE LINDSAY has failed to win a place on the game's new international governing body, losing out to his adversary, Sir Rodney Walker, in a major shift of power.

After beating Lindsay in an election to the Rugby League International Federation, Sir Rodney also said that he would be staying on as chairman of the League in this country. He will combine that with acting as vice- chairman of the new body, with the Australian, John McDonald, as chairman.

Super League in this country, however, expressed "astonishment" that Sir Rodney was taking on the new role and retaining his chairmanship of the League: "For him not to have brought the matter back to the clubs before announcing his decision shows a lack of respect," said the chairman of Super League, Chris Caisley.

The Federation replaces the Super League International Board, which was headed by Lindsay, and marks the return of the worldwide government of the game to the national governing bodies.

The Federation is expected today to ratify the British proposal for a tour to Australia and New Zealand next year, followed by a World Cup here in 2000 and possibly one in Australasia two years later.

It is also expected to make progress on reunifying the rules of the game and on standardising drug testing. A new agreement will mean that all countries follow International Olympic Committee guidelines.

"Peace is breaking out all over the world," said the Rugby League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, in Sydney last night. "It was just a matter of getting everyone around the table."

The Wigan stand-off, Henry Paul, has reacted with dismay to one of the first decisions of the meeting - that his club, rather than New Zealand, will have first call on him when the Super League play-offs clash with the Tests against Australia in October.

Paul, who expects to leave Wigan at the end of this season, said that the Kiwis were on the verge of a series win over Australia: "I'm shattered by the decision," he said. "I really wanted to be a part of it, but I'll try not to sulk."

The clearances for Paul, his brother, Robbie, of Bradford, and Leeds' Richie Blackmore had to be negotiated at yesterday's meeting, after the New Zealand delegation reacted angrily to reports that they had already conceded to Super League on the issue.

Virgin have reiterated their commitment to the London Broncos, despite the Broncos' vice-chairman, Brad Rosser, leaving the parent company. Virgin have delegated a sales and marketing expert, Ian Burroughs, to the Broncos' board, with Rosser also staying on in an individual capacity.

The First and Second Division Association is delaying decisions on which clubs it will admit for next season. Hemel Hempstead and Goole are candidates, but a proposed merger between Workington and Whitehaven, and the precarious finances of some clubs is giving Fasda pause for thought.