Rugby Union: Brittle and Ker excluded from talks

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The Independent Online
CLIFF BRITTLE and Donald Ker, the principal antagonists in the war of words between the Rugby Football Union and English First Division Rugby, are to be excluded from emergency talks designed to resolve their disputes. The political and personality clashes between Brittle and Ker, the chairmen respectively of the RFU's management board and EFDR, have triggered rows about the running of the game on an almost weekly basis over the last two years.

By midday tomorrow, the RFU council will name a four-man working party to meet representatives of the 24 Allied Dunbar Premiership clubs and reach agreement on four specific matters by 1 May. These issues are: proposed 14-club leagues, the leading clubs' future participation in Europe, the possible contracting of players by the RFU, and provincial rugby at senior level.

The initiative was sparked by the RFU president, Peter Brook, who together with his vice-president, Peter Trunkfield, and Brittle will select their quartet. Brittle will be omitted from the talks, but he is likely to become involved eventually as any agreements will need to be ratified by the management board before being implemented. In addition, Brittle's great ally Fran Cotton, the manager of last year's victorious Lions squad in South Africa, is expected to be one of the RFU's chosen four.

Brook said: "The RFU and the clubs agree on many broad principles, but it is imperative that we meet and do everything we can to move forward together."