Rugby Union: Wallabies in waiting game

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

NICK FARR-JONES, Australia's captain, said yesterday that an agreement between South African rugby officials and the African National Congress was no guarantee that his team's tour of the Republic would go ahead.

Farr-Jones welcomed the settlement of conditions governing next month's Australian and New Zealand tours, the first official visits in more than 15 years. But he also said that the safety of the Wallaby touring party remained an issue and he believed that a final decision would have to be made closer to the departure date early next month.

'There is a national strike scheduled for 3 August and that's when things could possibly get out of hand there,' he said. 'That's five days before we arrive, so I think we are going to have to assess it further down the track.'

Michael Lynagh, the half-back partner of Farr-Jones and world record points scorer in international rugby, is undecided whether to join the tour. 'I have my own personal views and I will see how the New Zealand tour goes first,' he said.

Eddie Tonks, chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, commenting on the agreement, said: 'It is very good news for us. Everyone is in perfect unison on the requirements and I think it has been a very good negotiation.' Tonks, though, said that the All Blacks - scheduled to depart for South Africa on 27 July - had not yet decided whether to visit the township of Boipatong, the scene of last month's massacre.

The South African Rugby Football Union, meanwhile, has said it will be contributing some of the proceeds from Test matches to victims of township violence.