Rugby Union Round-up: RFU split over TV

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The Independent Online
THE Rugby Football Union's other consuming argument of the moment, with the rest of the Home Unions about international television revenues, took a dramatic twist last night when the RFU decided to break away from combined negotiating and make their own deals in future.

The irony of the RFU fighting against a clubs' breakaway on the one hand, and for their own split from Scotland, Ireland and Wales on the other, is rich. As will be their pickings.

The RFU believe they should have the lion's share of the pounds 27m internationals currently bring, rather than the 25 per cent they get at the moment as they estimate 70 per cent of rugby is watched in Enbglish living rooms. The bidding is expected to top pounds 100m for the next contract, which will run from 1998. "I believe that all countries and their member clubs will benefit compared with the current system," the RFU secretary Tony Hallett said yesterday. It is unlikely that Wales, Ireland and Scotland will agree.

Meanwhile, on the pitchLawrence Dallaglio strengthened Wasps' grip on a place in next season's European Cup, one competition which looks as though it will definitely go ahead no matter how the domestic feud resolves itself.

The 23-year-old England flanker contributed two tries as he led his side to a 51-16 victory over Orrell in Courage League One. Wasps' five other touchdowns came from Chris Braithwaite, Nick Greenstock, Shane Roiser, Laurence Scrase and Guy Gregory, who also kicked five conversions and two penalties. Orrell, who had their own hopes of securing the fourth qualifying spot for an English side in the European Cup, trailed 17-11 at half-time following a try by Paul Hamer and two penalties from Simon Mason.

Sale stayed level with Wasps on 16 points as they saw off West Hartlepool 44-13. But their inferior points difference, coupled with the fact that their opponents in the final two matches of the season are Leicester and Bath would appear to leave them with little hope of appearing on the European stage.

For West, the ignominy of a 15th successive league defeat was compounded by the sending off, after a fracas in the 65th minute, of their prop Paul Whitelock.

Apart from the European Cup, the leading clubs must wait to discover which fixture list they will fulfil next season - the RFU's or their own alternative version. Whatever the outcome, normal service was resumed at Franklins Gardens where Northampton, whose early-season pyrotechnics had given way to less spectacular successes, confirmed themselves as League Two champions with a 69-5 thrashing of Waterloo. London Irish will accompany them into the top flight after their 46-23 victory at Blackheath and the 45-11 defeat of London Scottish, their only rivals, at Newcastle.

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