Rugby Union: Mordt banned from tour: IRB refuses to accept fitness instructor

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THE International Rugby Board uncharacteristically laid down the law yesterday when it barred Ray Mordt, a former Springbok but more pertinently a former professional rugby league player, from South Africa's tour of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

The 13-match tour, beginning next month, was to have been accompanied by Mordt as 'fitness instructor', a title designed to mask the fact that he would, in effect, have been one of the coaches under the new Springbok coach, Kitch Christie, whom Mordt assisted when he coached Transvaal.

Under IRB regulations, Mordt's reinstatement as an amateur in 1991 permitted him to coach, organise and administer at any level other than national. Hence the reason - though reason seems to have little to do with it - he can be Christie's successor as the coach of Transvaal but cannot be a coach of the Springboks, for whom he played on the wing 24 times from 1980 to 1984. He then signed for Wigan in 1985.

'Mr Mordt forfeited his amateur status when he became a rugby league player,' yesterday's IRB statement said. 'A fitness instructor acting as part of a management team is a person who is engaged in the organisation or administration of the game and, as a consequence, he is not eligible to act at national representative level.'

Louis Luyt, the president of the South African RFU, last night accepted the IRB decision.

Laurie Mains has been retained as the All Black coach for the World Cup in South Africa, despite his disappointing record of 13 wins, eight defeats and one draw in 22 Tests.

'I guess it's a relief the controversy is over,' Mains said. Reflecting on the sometimes bitter campaign against him continuing, he said: 'There have been some unfortunate things said, but I will do everything in my power to heal the rift and do what I can to unify New Zealand rugby.'