Rugby Union: Cash incentive for England

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The Independent Online
The England players will leave for the World Cup in South Africa tonight in the knowledge that they will make at least £1,400 each a week during the five weeks of the tournament. This is hardly amateurism, but then neither is it professionalism.

The bulk of the cash will come from the mobile phone company Cellnet, which is giving the 26-man squad around £120,000, working out at £4,600 per man. Then there is the International Board daily allowance of £25 for "communications" and a daily £45 for documented loss of earnings.

As Cellnet has promised to cover "a reasonable phone bill" most of the players will be able to keep their communication allowance. In addition, the squad have a £100,000-a-year deal with the brewer Courage - approximately £5,000 per player each year and there is an unquantified contract with Scrumpy Jack cider that has four months to run.

England regulars, particularly the XV chosen for every Five Nations match, made at least £10,000 through promotional work last season. They will gain a mimimum £6,775 a man if they make the World Cup final - with probably another £15,000 each to come next season, even before taking into account the significant relaxation of the rules on players' earnings expected to be implemented by the IB in August.

These increasing figures do not allow for England's actually winning the tournament. They will arrive in Durban tomorrow, leaving them with nine days before their opening match against Argentina at King's Park on Saturday week.

The World Cup drug testers have promised that players testing positive for illegal substances in South Africa will be sent home in disgrace on the next plane and will then have to face up to a two-year suspension from their own national union. Around 160 individual random tests, costing more than £30,000, will be made during the tournament.

Dr Davies, who was the drug controller at the last World Cup in 1991, said yesterday: "This time there is a much quicker turnaround from the time of the test to the result as a test centre has been specially set up in South Africa to deal with the samples. It took a lot longer in 1991 because the testing was done in London and Paris."

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