The Irish international Paul Wallace has joined the exodus to England by signing for Saracens on a three-year contract from Blackrock College.
The 24-year-old tight-head prop won the last of his five caps against England at Twickenham in March. His move means that only three of that side are still with Irish clubs - the Malone pair Denis McBride and Maurice Field and Dungannon's Jeremy Davidson.
Explaining his decision to move, Wallace said: "I felt that I might later regret turning down the chance to play in the English First Division."
Cardiff yesterday signed the Wales and Bridgend scrum-half Robert Howley. The Courage league champions Bath had been favourites to prise Howley away from the Brewery Field but he wanted to stay in Wales.
Cardiff also announced three other signings in their major team-strengthening exercise. The centre Leigh Davies has joined from Neath, the full-back Justin Thomas from Llanelli and the pounds 65,000 transfer of former Wales rugby league captain David Young from Salford has also been completed.
"All four players are among the best in their positions in the United Kingdom," Gareth Davies, the Cardiff chief executive, said.
The Scottish yesterday announced a loss of pounds 627,000 after tax for 1995-96. Although turnover increased by pounds 300,000 to pounds 8.4m expenditure on players, coaches and other expenses amounted to pounds 665,000 up to the year ending in March.
The SRU said next year would also see a deficit. But the union's finance convenor Iain Laughland said the SRU intended to maintain the current level of financial support to club rugby, which last year doubled to pounds 525,000.Reuse content