Rugby Union Round-up: Union's display of disunion

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The Independent Online
The view held in some quarters that the left and right hands of the Rugby Football Union are totally unacquainted with one another gained further credence at Twickenham last night. No sooner had a press conference been arranged for Tuesday to explain their position in the current television negotiations with Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the Five Nations Championship, than the RFU abruptly cancelled it.

The reason for this sudden volte-face, apparently, was that Cliff Brittle, the controversial chairman of the RFU's executive committee, did not want the conference to take place even though it had been approved by Tony Hallett, the RFU's secretary, and other senior figures.

It is thought that Brittle, whose position has become so contentious after less than three months in office, exercised his veto because he is not entirely at one with the RFU's attempts to acquire the lion's share of the TV rights for themselves.

Events on the pitch are, thankfully, much clearer and one issue which looks to have resolved itself is that Wasps will join Bath, Leicester and Harlequins in next season's European Cup. After thrashing the bottom club West Hartlepool 52-12 at Sudbury yesterday, the London side now need only to draw their final Courage League One fixture of the season, away to West Hartlepool on Saturday, as they have a vastly superior points difference to Sale, their sole rivals for fourth place. Guy Gregory claimed two of Wasps' eight tries and kicked six conversions. Shane Roiser also ran in a brace of tries while the other touchdowns came from Andy Gomarsall, Nick Greenstock, Matt Greenwood and Darren Molloy.

Northampton's 17th win out of 17 games in League Two, a 34-21 success at Wakefield, was marred by the first-half sending-off of their prop Martin Hynes for fighting by the England panel referee Tony Spreadbury.

Cardiff pulled level with Neath at the top of the Heineken First Division in Wales following a 12-try, 78-7 victory over Newbridge, and only trail the leaders on bonus points. Neath were set an unexpectedly awkward test at Swansea before scraping a 25-21 pass with Welsh international prop John Davies scoring two of their three tries. Llanelli avenged last weekend's Swalec Cup semi-final defeat with a 23-13 home success against Pontypridd while Treorchy ensured their First Division future by drawing 20-20 with Bridgend. Aberavon, the bottom club, beat Abertillery 33-24, but both are relegated nonetheless and will be replaced by Dunvant and Caerphilly.

In Aurillac, France ran in 10 tries, including three from the prop Christian Califano, in their 64-12 demolition of Romania.