Rugby Union: Wheeler's plea

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THE LEICESTER chief executive, Peter Wheeler, last night called on the England coach, Clive Woodward, to lift his ultimatum on the England players having to decide on club or country by tomorrow.

"Clive should put off any decision until after England's last game in April. At which point he should ask which of our players is playing well and who is injured," said Wheeler. The club are to hold talks with the players tomorrow, but whatever decision individuals made, Wheeler said the club would back them.

Keith Barwell, Northampton's owner, was the first to challenge Woodward, and yesterday the club's director of rugby, Ian McGeechan, lent his support: "We have to build in rest periods and what upset Keith most was it was just take, take, take. Somebody has to look after the players and the only way to do that is to sit down and talk."