rugby union:Catt is cleared for duty

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The Independent Online
Mike Catt was relieved to hear last night that he would be able to play for England against Ireland next Saturday - especially as he still does not know if the Rugby Football Union intends to do anything about his admission that he was paid to pla y for Eastern Province in his native South Africa three years ago.

The RFU executive met yesterday with Dennis Easby, the president, having said on Tuesday that its findings would be made known. Instead, the RFU secretary, Dudley Wood, confined himself to a statement of what had already been made obvious: "The verdict will not interfere with Catt's selection for England."

At the executive's behest, he will say no more until he has written to the International Board. Vernon Pugh, the IB chairman, has been saying that whatever the RFU decided would come before the board's annual meeting in Bristol in March.

The RFU probably considered the courtesy to the IB worthwhile since it would not have done anything at all had the board not insisted it do so. Wood had said that as the payments had taken place in South Africa they were beyond the RFU's jurisdiction. The IB took this as a cop-out, the England full-back having told a newspaper last October that he had received £200 per match.

Easby had already let it be known that Catt's first England cap after two as a replacement was not in jeopardy. "I hoped they would issue a public statement but the brief assurance is a weight off my mind," Catt said.