Saracens prepare to unveil Lynagh

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union


Saracens will complete a transfer of note on Monday when they are expected to unveil the Australian stand-off Michael Lynagh, the international record points-scorer, as English rugby's most significant signing so far for next season.

The ambitious north London club, now backed by the millionaire businessman Nigel Wray, have been in conversation with Philippe Sella, the most-capped Frenchman, who wishes to spend a year in England. The Ireland flanker Eddie Halvey has also signed.

Yesterday Saracens called a press conference for Monday at a fashionable watering-hole in London's West End with the message "Miss it and you'll be sorry", though the nature of the impending announcement was not disclosed. Lynagh, who is married to an Italian, has been under contract to Benetton Treviso, who gave a good account of themselves in a European Cup match against Toulouse last month.

Though at 32 he is in the autumn of his career and retired from international rugby after leading Australia in last year's World Cup, Lynagh - like the 33-year-old Sella - would have an immense amount to offer Saracens not simply as a player but in coaching and development.

One thing he should rectify is Sarries' chronic place-kicking, his record for the Wallabies of 911 points in 72 Tests from 1984-95 being 266 more than anyone else has achieved.

Ireland's players will receive at least pounds 3,000 for every international appearance during the 1995-96 season. The 21-member squad will receive a match fee of around pounds 1,000 and a further pounds 2,000 will be paid to those who actually play. Players will also get a pounds 1,000 bonus for a win in the Five Nations' Championship. The 30 members of the extended international squad will also receive a retainer of pounds 7,500.

The breakdown in old barriers occasioned by rugby union's professionalisation will have its most remarkable expression with the likely appearance of the Rugby League champions, Wigan, in the Middlesex Sevens in May. In another striking development, the Rugby Football Union has enquired whether it could enter an England team.

The new Lomu?, page 24