SPORTS LETTERS: Rugby fudge

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The Independent Online
From Mr P Foster

Sir: Steve Bale ("League exiles freed for return to union", l5 March) mocks David Hinchcliffe, MP, for his apparent lack of enthusiasm over the recent International Rugby Board ruling that former league professionals will be allowed to play non-representative rugby union again, providing that they abstain from playing rugby for a minimum three-year period.

Mr Hinchcliffe though is right to assert that "bigoted discrimination" remains. Professional rugby players are singled out for discrimination by the IRB while other professional sportsmen and women are not. Any ex- soccer, tennis or American football professional wanting to play rugby union would be welcome to do so. Indeed, Naas Botha, the former Springbok, left rugby union to kick goals in professional American football and returned to captain South Africa. Compare this with the shabby treatment of Steve Pilgrim, the Wasps player who had a trial with Leeds rugby league club for which he received no payment and was banned from playing union for 12 months.

The IRB ruling is a fudge.

Yours sincerely.

PAUL FOSTER,

London SW19 3AY

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