Borthwick embraces expansion of players' union

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The Independent Online

The England captain Steve Borthwick has given his approval to the expansion of the Professional Rugby Players' Association into a new organisation catering for players inside and outside the game's elite.

The captain of Saracens, speaking on behalf of the PRA's existing Guinness Premiership membership of 500, backed the newly titled Rugby Players' Association (RPA), launched yesterday, which will also embrace players from different tiers of the game. These will include Championship players, elite players from women's rugby and retired players.

"I am delighted to support the RPA in their new direction," Borthwick said. "For the players, it is vital that we have a strong, pro-active and supportive union. This announcement shows the RPA is responding to the changing needs of the players and the sport."

Damian Hopley, RPA chief executive, said: "We are very excited to announce a new positive direction and new name for our organisation. The changes will ensure the RPA is even better positioned to support the players, and the growth of rugby union."

Bath prop and RPA chairman David Barnes had two reasons to celebrate. He said: "The RPA has undertaken a great deal of positive work to support our members, including world-class education programmes that help players to be role models for young people, and be positive ambassadors."

Barnes is also delighted Bath head coach Steve Meehan has committed himself to the club until the summer of 2012 by signing a two-year contract extension. The 42-year old Australian joined Bath from Stade Français in 2006 to coach the club's backs. Promoted to head coach in 2007, Meehan ended a potless decade at The Rec when he steered Bath to victory in the 2008 European Challenge Cup final.

The Lions and former Wasps head coach Ian McGeechan has dismissed rumours he has been approached to succeed Dean Richards as rugby director of Harlequins: "There have been no conversations, no contact."

Leinster flanker Shane Jennings has been cited for making alleged contact with the eye area of London Irish lock Nick Kennedy during Friday night's Heineken Cup tie in Dublin. This is in contravention of Law 10.4 (1), Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

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