Rugby Union: Rowell bows to pressure of role

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JACK ROWELL will be able to devote himself more exclusively to England's World Cup campaign after reaching an agreement and financial settlement which will eventually lead to his leaving Dalgety, the food conglomerate of which he is chief executive.

Rowell, manager since succeeding Geoff Cooke in March, comes off the board at Christmas and after an indeterminate further period departs altogether, curbing the onerous life of living in Bath, working in Market Harborough and managing England anywhere and everywhere.

If this is an example of the impossibility of combining a career with the demands of modern rugby, Rowell was not saying so yesterday. But the fact is Cooke found it hard enough when chief executive of the National Coaching Foundation, so one can but imagine what it is like for a senior business executive.

'It's something I expected to happen,' Rowell said. 'It was agreed six months ago and has been quite open. I've always said my job comes first and as we get into the World Cup that would have been quite a challenge.' Too great a challenge perhaps to be combined with business high-flying.

Since it was six months ago that Rowell became manager, he has evidently been discussing his future ever since, though the impression given was that he would try to combine sporting and non-sporting roles in the manner so favoured for players by the Rugby Football Union.

During nigh-on two decades as coach of Bath, Rowell always regarded his rugby as a hobby. But the demands of England, not least those imposed on an unpaid servant by incessant media attention, have proved of a wholly different order.

Small wonder that Cooke has long been on record as believing the England managership would eventually become a professional appointment. One of the reasons for Cooke's sudden resignation was his wish to devote more time to his work. It had taken sponsorship - covering his many absences from his office in Leeds - to enable him to fulfil his England obligations.

Since last month, Rowell has been coach as well as manager, having dispensed with Dick Best's services seven weeks after the conclusion of England's South African tour. Rowell's agreement with Dalgety may give him a far clearer sight of the way to the World Cup, but he still had to miss a players' get-together in Marlow last night because of business commitments.

Wales are giving Scott Quinnell until tomorrow to prove his fitness for Saturday's World Cup European seeding match against Romania in Bucharest. The Llanelli No 8 has been undergoing traction for a back injury.