Rugby Union: Bath deny mega-bid

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Bath rugby union club were yesterday talking down reports that a great deal of cash was about to be dispatched to Cardiff in exchange for the Welsh captain, Rob Howley. The European Cup winners are supposedly prepared to part with pounds 500,000, but while Andy Robinson, Bath's head coach, would neither confirm or deny the club's interest in the 27-year-old Lions scrum-half, he did say: "There's no way we will pay that sort of money for one player."

Bath, whose current scrum-half is the club captain, Andy Nicol, have been linked with Howley, who captained his country for the first time against Italy on Saturday, Bristol's former Lions scrum-half Robert Jones and South Africa's scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.

The West Country club are also confident of signing the Pontypridd and Lions goalkicker, Neil Jenkins, who could link up with Howley in a new half-back partnership.

"I had a telephone call from Bath inquiring about Rob," Gareth Davies, the Cardiff chief executive, said. "They asked about his value and I threw them a steep figure. They called back the next day to say it was acceptable, but we haven't given them permission to speak to him yet. We need to sit down and talk to him."