Rugby Union: Leading clubs plan to corner League sponsorship

Rugby's money men took centre stage yesterday to prove once and for all that when the rich get richer, the poor get short shrift. Prominent among the various winners in the financial ball park were England's First and Second Division clubs, all of whom were relishing the prospect of a pounds 7.5m investment over three years by the Allied Dunbar insurance conglomerate.

Although Allied were in no rush to confirm their interest in financing the domestic rugby boom, club insiders were expecting the deal to be ratified next week. England's league set-up, the widest-ranging competition of its type in world sport, has been sponsored by Courage, the brewers, since its inception in 1987, but their agreement expires at the end of this season.

Sadly for the clubs outside the top two divisions, no money from the new deal will trickle down through the system, as it did in the days of Courage sponsorship. With the big-spending English elite hoovering up every last penny available next season, well over 1,200 lesser lights will be left to fumble in the dark for their own financial salvation.

Meanwhile, two of the English sides challenging for European Cup competition next season, Sale and Gloucester, were expected to set in motion money- making initiatives of their own. Sale's membership met last night to consider the ramifications of a major business investment, thought to amount to at least pounds 2.5m, while Gloucester are due to hold a similar general meeting tonight. If the West Countrymen ratify their proposed cash injection, Philippe Saint-Andre, the former French captain, could appear on the left wing at Kingsholm next season.

Yesterday's frenzied commercial activity threw up one obvious loser, however; Kevin Murphy, the England physiotherapist, withdrew from this summer's Lions tour of South Africa after a financial dispute with the management. Mark Davies, Murphy's Welsh counterpart, will make the trip instead.

"The four home unions were not prepared to pay me anywhere near the pounds 150 per day that is the recognised British Medical Association figure for employing a locum," said Murphy, who has travelled with the last three Lions parties despite running his own practice over and above his rugby duties.

"I am a professional physio and I need to ensure that someone keeps the practice going while I'm away. On previous tours, both the team doctor and I finished out of pocket, but we accepted we would lose money under the amateur regime. If England can recognise my worth at international level, it should be recognised by the Lions, too."

For all that, there was good news for the Lions yesterday. Tony Underwood, one of four chosen wings, was confident of recovering from the fractured jaw he sustained during Newcastle's weekend dust-up with Bedford in time to catch the flight to Johannesburg.

More importantly still, Keith Wood, the Harlequins and Ireland hooker who has been stricken by shoulder problems for the last two months, reported no ill effects from his run-out against Saracens on Wednesday night.

England's second-string Test squad will play four fixtures in Buenos Aires on next month's six-match tour of Argentina, which starts with a game against Cordoba. The trip is similar to the visit that England made in 1990, when they played seven games, with four in Buenos Aires.

ENGLAND A TOUR SCHEDULE: 21 May: v Cordoba (Cordoba); 24 May: v Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Cricket & Rugby Club); 27 May: v Argentina A (Buenos Aires Cricket & Rugby Club); 31 May: v Argentina (FCO Ground, Buenos Aires); 3 June: v Cuyo (Mendoza); 7 June : v Argentina (FCO Ground, Buenos Aires).

Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Sport
football
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk