Rugby Union: Wasps reject Saracens move

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The Independent Online
SARACENS WERE reported yesterday to be tabling a bid to buy Wasps in what, if it happens, would be an audacious takeover. If such a move were to succeed, it would also point the way towards the prospect of a British super league.

The approach was made on the eve of Wasps' match against Saracens on Sunday. The players were told about the development before kick-off, though the club deny any interest.

"We are not for sale, and that is what we told the players," a Wasps spokesman said. "Wasps are in a healthy state, costs are under control and we are planning for a successful future."

Some believe, however, that the move is the first step towards creating eight English "super clubs" to play in a British super league. One would be based in south London, one at Harlequins in west London and another in the north of the city. It is this last franchise that would fit the Wasps/Saracens profile.

For all the interest shown by English clubs in signing Jonah Lomu, the chances of the New Zealand winger making an appearance here are slim. None the less, London Irish yesterday gave English First Division Rugby an explanation for the pounds 1.85m deal they have offered Lomu - which would compromise the pounds 1.8m salary cap.

The plan is to pay Lomu pounds 150,000 a year from club coffers, with the other pounds 350,000 a year coming from sponsors. In any case, Lomu's arrival would be a bad thing for domestic rugby, according to David Campese.

"A guy like Jonah is going to put bums on seats, but would it be good for the game over here?" the former Australian stalwart asked. "England, for the last three or four World Cups, have got to a certain stage and then their back-line talent has let them down."

Figures released yesterday show that Rugby Football Union is heading towards the black. The RFU lost just over pounds 8,000 before tax in the year ending 30 June, an improvement after a pounds 3.6m loss the previous year.