Rugby Union: England to learn Championship fate

The latest in a long line of meetings is likely to establish the status of England within the Five Nations' Championship. Their European partners met yesterday to discuss the Rugby Football Union's compromise proposals in the long-running row that has led to England being thrown out of the championship because of their separate television contract with BSkyB.

England hope their partners will come back to them today with an invitation to attend yet another meeting later this week, at which a solution to the dispute might be thrashed out.

The last meeting of the Five Nations - in Cardiff two weeks ago - ended in stalemate and officials from Ireland, Scotland and Wales have made it clear they will not waste more time if England do not back down on the Sky deal. However, it is believed that when the RFU executive committee met last week, there was a significant shift in opinion, raising hopes of saving the 84-year-old competition.

Martin Offiah relaunched his union career yesterday by signing a four- year contract with Bedford of the Second Division.

Offiah, 29, who has led rugby league's try-scoring charts in six of his nine seasons in the game, will play out the rest of the Super League season with the London Broncos and then play for Bedford in their opening League game against Nottingham on 7 September.

A decision on who has first claim on the winger when the seasons coincide has yet to be resolved.

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