Rugby Union: Furious Cotton says the RFU is 'Stalinist'

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FRAN COTTON, the former vice-chairman of the management board, has accused the Rugby Football Union of "dirty tricks" after being charged with bringing the game into disrepute.

If the RFU's case is proved, Cotton, the manager of the victorious 1997 British Lions, could be be thrown out of rugby. Last month Cotton called for the International Board to "isolate England until the RFU puts its house in order''.

He was calling for his country to be banned from Test games. He has also called for a special meeting to demand a vote of no confidence in the RFU Council, and has said Twickenham's attitude to him and chairman Cliff Brittle is "Stalinist''.

The RFU has responded by setting up a three-man panel to investigate, with Ray Manock, national discipline officer as chairman, working with the former president John Simpson and the ex-Middlesex Council representative, Mike Christie.

Cotton said: "It's part of the dirty-tricks campaign to get rid of Cliff Brittle, whose views and mine coincide on many matters."

Craig Joiner will have the chance to prove his worth when Scotland meet New South Wales tomorrow in Sydney. The 24-year-old wing, who has already been capped 20 times at international level, is relishing the prospect of reclaiming his Test place.