Sports Letters: Learning across sporting divide?

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a rugby union enthusiast with more than a passing interest in the structure and administration of the game in England I felt a glow of pride in your leading article (29 November), but I find myself wondering for how long the game will be entitled to such a flattering comparison with the round ball game.

It seems to me that rugby union, far from avoiding the pitfalls which have befallen association football, has been hell-bent on following the same path. The pyramid of which you write has a gap in the middle that separates a handful of clubs from which England players are selected from the rest. In recent years only Wade Dooley has crossed that divide, but it defies probability that he is the only player with the potential to do so. Yet, out of 46 players named at the beginning of this season as being of interest to England all but two came from six clubs.

It is only a matter of time before these clubs 'put their own commercial fortunes before the success of the England team', to use your words about the other game, because their own success is increasingly dependent on their continued supremacy in the dash for cash.

We need a complete pyramid of representative rugby, but since we have had a divisional championship, lower representative rugby has been allowed to wither in favour of club competition and the consequent scramble to join top clubs.

Yours,

W HODGES

Ware, Hertfordshire

29 November

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