Rugby Union: Townsend turns down Bath and may join Cardiff

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The Independent Online
Gregor Townsend, the Lions stand-off, yesterday rejected a six-figure offer to join Bath. Cardiff are now favourites to secure the Northampton and Scotland player's services. He has promised them a decision by today, having met senior club officials earlier this week.

Bath would have added 24-year-old Townsend to a back division that already includes the England international trio of Mike Catt, Jeremy Guscott and Phil de Glanville. But they could not guarantee him the No 10 jersey, which is why he has become unsettled at Northampton where Paul Grayson holds that position.

"This has got nothing at all to do with money," Bath's assistant coach, Clive Woodward, said. "He wants to join a club who can guarantee him the fly-half position, and unfortunately, we could not do that."

Cardiff's offer is a rumoured pounds 500,000 over three years, with no transfer fee involved. There is an apparent clause in Townsend's Northampton contract which states that the Saints will not receive any money if he joins a club in another country. But Northampton are likely to oppose his proposed move all the way, with their multi-millionaire owner, Keith Barwell, warning that High Court action is a possibility.

Swansea have put a pounds 1m price tag on their Wales and Lions centre, Scott Gibbs. And the All Whites warned off Northampton, who are keen to reunite 26-year-old Gibbs with his Lions coach, Ian McGeechan, at Franklin's Gardens for the new campaign.

London Welsh have announced a pounds 500,000 cash injection which could herald the start of another golden era at Old Deer Park. A 10-strong business consortium, including the club's former Wales and Lions flanker John Taylor, signed official documents yesterday following weeks of discussion.

Around 1,200 club members will also be invited to take up a share option in the new London Welsh plc, with Taylor forecasting a possible pounds 100,000- plus windfall from that venture.

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