Rugby Union: Llanelli not prepared to pay pounds 20,000 fine

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The Independent Online
Llanelli and Pau have been penalised for the violence in their European Cup match but Simon Palmer finds the Welsh side in rebellious mood.

Llanelli officials responded to the club's pounds 20,000 Heineken European Cup fine yesterday by telling tournament directors that they will not pay it.

The Scarlets' declaration came after they had been punished for their part in an ill-tempered clash a fortnight ago with the French club Pau, who were fined the same amount.

It follows the pounds 30,000 fines handed out to Brive and Pontypridd, whose meeting on 14 September was marred by a mass punch-up when two players were sent off and trouble after the match in a bar.

Llanelli are more than prepared to challenge European Rugby Cup Limited's decision legally - a pounds 10,000 fine within 21 days and a further pounds 10,000 suspended - claiming it has no basis.

"We have written to ERC asking for answers," said the club chairman Ron Jones. "We don't know what tournament rule has been breached, or from what charge this fine arises.

"I am not in the business of parting with Llanelli's money when we don't know what we are paying for. Unless ERC give us this information, then why should we pay?"

Llanelli believe that Pau, and their scrum-half Frederic Torossian in particular, instigated the violence. At yesterday's disciplinary hearing in Dublin they presented their case with video evidence but ERC accepted that Torossian's club fine of F20,000 (almost pounds 2,000) was sufficient punishment.

ERC also announced that the Pontypridd's 8 Dale McIntosh has been asked to appear at their next board meeting on 14 October, when he will answer a disrepute charge.

McIntosh was sent off in Brive and banned for 30 days, but incurred ERC's wrath for making a thumbs-up gesture to the crowd as he left the field.

The All Blacks may soon be listed on the stock exchange. The New Zealand Rugby Football Union chairman Rob Fisher said: "If we float the All Blacks the public could buy into the scheme, but they might think they own them already, with the NZRFU acting as the custodian," Fisher said.

The idea has been discussed several times by the NZRFU board but Fisher said it was not an option this year. "I would like to see the union on a sounder financial basis before we start a float," he said. "It might be two or three years away."

Greg Smith, the former Australia national coach, is suing the Australian Rugby Union for unfair dismissal. Smith is seeking compensation to cover 16 months of lost wages and damages.

Smith quit the job last month after being told by the ARU chief executive, John O'Neill, that he was about to be sacked.