Rugby Union: Rotherham to pay pounds 100,000 security

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The Independent Online
ROTHERHAM RUGBY Union FC and the managers of English Second Division Rugby were told by a judge yesterday they must put up pounds 100,000 as "security for costs" before they can go ahead with their High Court action against English First Division Rugby Ltd, the Rugby Football Union and English Rugby Partnership.

The court order was granted to the defendants in Rotherham's pending court action, RFU, ERP and EFDR, in view of a company voluntary arrangement - an agreement to pay off creditors in order to avoid a winding-up order - in December 1998. This CVA, of pounds 50,000, has now been paid off.

Rotherham have until Friday to pay pounds 100,000 into court and Chris Middleton, a director of Rotherham and the club's solicitor, said: "We anticipated this and you can be sure that the money will be paid into court as required - which is an indication of just how determined we are."

The action has arisen because Rotherham believe EFDR are in breach of the Mayfair agreement by not serving all the clubs in the Premiership with the statutory 12 months' notice of the change in the size of the divisions, EFDR having reduced the First Division from 14 clubs to 12 for the new season starting on 4 September.

The RFU, anxious to avoid any further embarrassment caused by disputes with the leading clubs, have not until now had any direct discussions with Rotherham, but today Mike Yarlett, the club's senior director and chief benefactor, is meeting Brian Baister, the chairman of the RFU Board of Management.

Demands by Scotland's rugby rebels for World Cup bonuses totalling pounds 100,000 have been branded completely unrealistic. More than half the squad which swept to the Five Nations' title earlier this season refused to train yesterday, instead seeking advice from their lawyer over bonus payments they believe are inadequate.

It is thought the Scottish squad have been offered a maximum pounds 20,000 to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup this autumn, while their English counterparts will pocket pounds 100,000 just for being involved.

This has caused anger among the Scotland squad members currently playing outside their own country, an elite band which includes the captain, Gary Armstrong, Gregor Townsend and Scott Murray.

The remaining 12 players contracted to the Scottish Rugby Union trained alone yesterday. Although they are not part of the current dispute, they will gain from any financial improvements the exiles can secure.

With full internationals against Argentina and Romania due to be played at the end of the month, the timing of the dispute could not have been worse.

Both sides are optimistic a deal can be thrashed out before the next squad session next Thursday. "Negotiations with the Scottish Rugby Union are proceeding amicably and with no animosity," said the players' legal representative, Paul Cairns.

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