SPORTS LETTERS

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The Independent Online
Last week we asked for your reaction to the current state of rugby union. Who is right in the big debate? The RFU or Epruc? Here we print a selection of your replies

Only losers in

national lottery

From Mr M O'Reilly

Sir: It is not a question of who is right in the rugby debate. The sides are incompatible. Epruc is 100 per cent professional. The RFU is only partially so.

Epruc is into making money - hence the unlikely investors - whereas the RFU has to cater for the game overall, large parts of which remain as amateur as they were before the arrival of the P word. An amateur game with an amateur RFU, with all its warts, was by and large OK but a professional game surely requires a professional RFU if Epruc is to get into bed with it.

Whatever the outcome of this tedious affair, money will doubtless ruin rugby as it has most other professional sports.

Yours sincerely,

MIKE O'REILLY

Stockbridge, Hampshire

The case for Epruc

From Miss Jill Horsley

Sir: All through this tangle for power and control of the game, there has been the comment that talks and negotiations were continuing and that an agreement would be met. This has been completely misleading the true supporter. Talks - what a laugh! The only feasible way forward is to take action. And action by Epruc must take the form of a breakaway from the RFU.

This will get rid of all of the red tape and hypocrisy which will benefit the people that matter in this situation - the players, clubs and the supporters, lest we forget them. Under the guise of Epruc, Divisions One and Two will be able to draw in the sponsorship and financial backing to keep clubs afloat so the money goes to the heart of rugby.

With the current product that is on offer, companies and sponsors will be drawn to the clubs and could back the clubs' own form of competition, pay the players and allow scope for the clubs to attract foreign fixtures to improve the standard of playing all round. And why should the money generated from the clubs have to be used to pay back the RFU's debt? It is the players and supporters' interest that has to be dealt with here, and not just chairmen, banks and shareholders who enjoy the freebies of the game.

I am with you all the way Epruc. So come on Kerr and Wheeler, take the plunge and break away from the RFU. Go Epruc!

Yours sincerely,

JILL HORSLEY

Blaby, Leicestershire

From Mr N Abrams

Sir: I hold the RFU responsible for the mess rugby union is now in. They were very wrong to make a deal with Sky TV and are now making more mistakes.

The RFU should be the servants of the players who are the game, not the other way round.

Yours faithfully,

NICHOLAS ABRAMS

Milverton, Somerset

The case for the RFU

From Mr N Crumpton

Sir: I wish to make the following points:

1) Most rugby enthusiasts are delighted the game is now open, as the top clubs throughout the world were bringing the game into disrepute by surreptitiously paying players either by giving cash or lucrative employ- ment or both. Furthermore those of us living in the north were embarrassed by the unfair treatment of our rugby league friends by the RFU.

2) Since the opening of rugby, it has been noticeable that the national press and television has been most vociferous in the support of the professionals. Although this is understandable as the writers are themselves professional, it leads to a refusal to present the point of view of recreational rugby.

3) Most clubs could not support a full professional staff. In fact without Sky TV neither league nor union could support a full-time professional system.

4) The benefactor/sponsor is often only interested in self-esteem and power. There is little interest in facilitating the recreational aspect of the game.

In my view, those clubs which wish to employ a full-time professional playing staff should leave the RFU. Players should be able to move between clubs at the end of each season. Professional clubs will pay a recreational club a development fee for any player who is a member of the professional "squad". The RFU will promote international and county matches using players from the recreational clubs. Twickenham would be rented to the professional clubs for "showpiece" games.

I strongly support the RFU and Mr Brittle. I have only occasional interest in professional sport, and detest the associated greed and posturing. Like thousands of others, I will continue to support recreational sport as actively as age allows.

Yours sincerely,

NORMAN CRUMPTON

Great Driffield, Yorkshire

From Wing Cdr T F H Hudson

Sir: The RFU is right*.

Yours faithfully,

T F H HUDSON

Buckingham

*If I said more it would be unprintable.

Letters should be marked "For Publication" and should contain daytime and evening phone numbers. They should be sent to Sports Editor, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Letters may be shortened for reasons of space.

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