Rugby Union: A ray of light for Pilgrim

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S rugby union authorities mounted a spirited defence of their actions in the Steve Pilgrim affair yesterday by stating they were only following orders: specifically the International Board's regulations on amateurism and on players having unpaid trials for professional rugby league clubs, writes Steve Bale.

Dudley Wood, the Rugby Football Union secretary, said that under these regulations Pilgrim had disqualified himself for a year for having a trial for Leeds but would receive a sympathetic hearing if he applied for reinstatement - provided he had no further dealings with rugby league.

Sir Peter Yarranton - who wears three hats as RFU past president, chairman of the Sports Council and past president of Pilgrim's club, Wasps - yesterday had a formal meeting with Wood to express the Sports Council's disquiet over the Pilgrim case. 'The Sports Council is concerned that there does not appear to have been payment made in the Pilgrim case and amateurism is normally a question of whether a person is or isn't paid,' Sir Peter said.

But Wood told him that, whatever the union's view, its hands were tied by the IB. As to demands by MPs in rugby league territory that Government money for rugby union be cut off, Wood retorted that all it received was pounds 50,000 from the Sports Council to help with coaching expenses compared with pounds 300,000 that went to league.