Rugby Union: Clubs demand stronger voice: RFU under fire

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The Independent Online
ENGLISH rugby's leading clubs, often portrayed as a rival power source to the Rugby Football Union, yesterday demanded representation on the governing body commensurate with their pivotal place in the game. The Senior Clubs' Association comprises the 40 clubs in the national divisions of the Courage Championship.

The RFU's own Bishop Commission examination of its administrative structure has accepted the principle of the SCA's being directly represented on the full committee. But Bishop's recommendation of two places goes nowhere near satisfying the SCA's wish for 15 per cent, or about eight.

In addition, the association wants 15 per cent of the RFU executive (about three places), complaining that the constituent bodies, the counties, do not provide adequate representation. The SCA's recommendations are the product of seven months of meetings under the chairmanship of Bob Taylor, the former Northampton and England No 8.

At present, the senior clubs have no direct representation on the RFU. 'We want to have a bigger input and play a greater part in the destiny of the game,' Taylor said yesterday.

The Taylor Report argues, contentiously, that players in the top four divisions should be formally excluded from the County Championship, that national clubs have limited player registration and that two-up, two-down promotion and relegation be reappraised at the end of next season.

The report is the clubs' fightback against allegations that by their greed they have left leading players vulnerable to exhaustion through the number of league fixtures they now have to play. It says: 'It should be recognised that the long- term future is secured by establishing and protecting the income of clubs.'

Richard Wallace, the Garryowen right wing who broke his right shin last weekend, will miss Ireland's eight- match tour of Australia in May and June. His place has gone to Jonathon Bell, of Loughborough University and Ballymena.