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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Learning Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

Key stage 1 and 2 teachers required for the Vale of Glamorgan

£90 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme & Free Training: Randstad Education Cardiff...

Foundation Phase Teacher required

£90 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Exciting opputunities availabl...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz