Rugby Union: Referees plan strike

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The Independent Online
Welsh referees have threatened to withdraw their services from all games played in Wales from 20 December in a dispute over pay.

The referees announced their planned strike after failing to persuade the Welsh Rugby Union to pay officials in charge of all five divisions of the National League. The referees demanded payment for handling matches involving clubs from the top five divisions of the Welsh National League. The WRU have agreed to pay the referees officiating only in the First and Second Divisions, providing they sign contracts with the Union.

The WRU have argued that, given the largely amateur status of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Divisions, they would favour an amateur status for referees handling games at those levels.

The Italians have recalled Marcello Cuttitta for their friendly international against Scotland at Murrayfield next Saturday more than a year after the 30-year-old wing announced he was retiring after differences over selection.

Cuttitta was named in a 21-man squad lacking only two of the team beaten 54-21 by England at Twickenham last month.

Stefano Bordon is out through illness and the coach George Coste said he had dropped the back-rower Corrado Covi, who had been recalled for the England game after five years out of the national team.

Leicester and Brive expect capacity crowds when they host the Heineken Cup semi-finals next month but the matches will also attract huge television audiences in France and Britain. Television coverage in place by FR2, BBC and Welsh language channel S4C means both matches will be screened live with a possible combined armchair audience in excess of 10 million.

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