Impoverished Celts bemoan lure of Anglo-French riches

Wales and Scotland, financially challenged to such a degree that they are even shorter of money than they are of results, are pressing the international rugby community to address the economic imbalance that threatens to wreak as much havoc in Europe as in the southern hemisphere, where the Pacific Islands unions are close to bankruptcy. David Moffett, chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, confirmed his intention to raise the issue when the Six Nations committee next meets.

Moffett, not one to spare the sensibilities of others, spent much of yesterday lambasting the cash-rich clubs of England and France for throwing money at home-grown players plying their trade with the newly-established Welsh regional teams. "These countries are rugby powerhouses, but it won't do them much good if they have no one to play," he said, warning that top-level rugby would soon resemble Premiership football in England, where "only two or three teams are able to compete".

The chief executive saved his sharpest criticism for the French clubs, who are chasing three outstanding Welsh backs - the Celtic Warriors utility back Gareth Thomas, the Neath-Swansea Ospreys wing Shane Williams and the Llanelli Scarlets outside-half Stephen Jones. "The French are artificially inflating the transfer market," Moffett fumed. "They don't have a salary cap, and seem to be a law unto themselves. It's not just Wales. If they targeted Brian O'Driscoll" - the captain of Ireland and one of the most valuable players in world rugby - "they would get him through financial muscle."

Llanelli appear to have resigned themselves to losing Jones. "Clubs from both England and France have offered Stephen double his current salary, and we simply cannot compete," said Stuart Gallacher, the chief executive at Stradey Park. "How are we expected to make a decent fist of the Heineken Cup with one hand tied behind our back?"

Wales were not alone in moaning and groaning about the injustices of the game. Matt Williams, the Australian who coached Scotland to the most worm-eaten of wooden spoons in this season's Six Nations, admitted commercial realities were undermining his aim of keeping the best Scottish players in the best Scottish teams.

"We're not helping ourselves by allowing our players to leave Scotland," he said. "We are trying to set up a nationally co-ordinated approach to the international game, but the process becomes very difficult when extreme financial pressure causes people to play in England. Players have to understand that by leaving this country, they have chosen to put Scotland second. That's fine, but there are obvious ramifications. People who play for the professional teams here deserve our loyalty."

Yesterday, Williams named a 54-man squad for next week's fitness session - the first leg of the build-up for the summer Tests against Australia and Samoa. Some of the most prominent players - Tom Smith, Jason White, Simon Danielli - will playrugby in England next season, and while the coach has just about accepted that imperfect reality, he must have been flabbergasted when one of Scotland's brightest scrum-halfs, Mark McMillan of Glasgow, confirmed a move to Leeds, having been recommended by none other than the Glasgow captain and international flanker Cameron Mather.

As expected, Wasps have included Simon Shaw in the line-up for Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final with Munster in Dublin. Shaw will be heavily strapped, having suffered a damaged spleen in an alleged stamping incident during last weekend's Premiership win at Leeds. Warren Gatland, the Wasps coach, accused the Yorkshire side's flanker, Colm Rigney, but Rugby Football Union officials who viewed video footage will not take any action.

Instead, they took Gatland to task for pointing his finger at Rigney. "We have established a procedure that includes the facility for individual clubs to ask the relevant citing officer to look at a particular incident," said Jeff Blackett, the union's disciplinary officer. "I would encourage all directors of rugby to use this facility, rather than raise issues through the media."

Both Wasps and Munster have retained the line-ups that started their respective quarter-finals against Gloucester and Stade Français. Sale, however, have made several changes for tonight's Premiership match with Newcastle - the team who beat them in last weekend's Cup final. The injured Jos Baxendell is replaced by Vaughan Going, while the scrum-half Nick Walshe and the lock Iain Fullarton, have given way to Richard Wigglesworth and Chris Day.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London