Rugby Union: Ailing Richmond battle against the bean-counters

RICHMOND'S OCCUPATION of the moral high ground remained unchallenged yesterday as the financially embarrassed Premiership One club continued to resist the cynical machinations of their top-flight rivals to strip them of their professional status.

Club officials remained adamant that a proposed hostile buy-out by English First Division Rugby was legally untenable and appealed to Allied Dunbar, the high-profile sponsors of the domestic championship, for support in their fight against the "draconian" move to put them out of business.

At least five Premiership directors of rugby were making their feelings known to their respective chief executives, despite EFDR's staggeringly dictatorial attempt to maintain a united front by threatening public dissenters with pounds 25,000 fines. As one coach put it at the weekend: "This isn't rugby and the people driving this through know it isn't rugby. It's one thing for a club to fail on the pitch and go to the wall. It's quite another for them to have the plug pulled by a collection of suits sitting round a boardroom table."

Yet there was a distinct whiff of opportunism amid all the solidarity. Bristol, newly promoted and keen to build a viable First Division squad for next season, are suddenly very interested in a number of Richmond regulars, including Agustin Pichot, Barry Williams, Craig Quinnell and Adam Vander. Spencer Brown, Allan Bateman, Darren Crompton and Ben Clarke are also likely to receive a seductive phone call or two before the week is out.

Tony Dorman, the Richmond president, claimed yesterday that Tom Walkinshaw, the EFDR chairman widely identified as the villain of the piece, had agreed to take the issue back to his board for reconsideration, but there was no confirmation of any such volte face. Indeed, Howard Thomas, the EFDR chief executive, was standing firm. "Richmond are understandably emotional, but we have put in the offer to buy their Premiership share to protect the amateur side of the club," he said. "If we acquire their share, they will cease to exist as a professional entity. However, we believe our offer to be acceptable in financial terms."

If Richmond, currently in financial administration, reject that offer, believed to be in the region of pounds 500,000, EFDR intend to exercise their alleged right to buy them out of the Premiership for pounds 1. However, the first deadline of yesterday lunchtime passed without incident after the administrators themselves threw their weight behind Dorman's on-going attempt to piece together a seven-figure rescue package. Tomorrow's important match with Saracens at the Madejski Stadium will therefore go ahead.

There has never been any doubt over this weekend's Tetley's Bitter Cup final between Newcastle and Wasps, although the organisers are still wondering whether the showpiece occasion will attract a quorum of supporters. According to Nigel Melville, the Wasps director of rugby, the competition is likely to generate far more momentum next season, when the winners will be rewarded with automatic European qualification.

"There's no point winning the cup on the Saturday and going bust on the Sunday," said Melville, wearing his blunt Yorkshireman's hat. "At the moment, it costs a club money to put together a good cup run. We've travelled to Sedgley Park and hosted Waterloo at Loftus Road this season and you don't make much out of those sorts of fixtures. But the European link will make the cup better business for the professional clubs. It's a wonderful competition because everyone takes part in it, but you have to earn through it too."

Melville will name his side tomorrow. The one major worry surrounds Simon Shaw, the former England lock, whose cauliflower ear has filled with blood and requires constant attention. Charming.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones