Springboks consider new offer

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

South Africa appear to have won the battle to keep their Springboks out of the clutches of Kerry Packer or rugby league, but it is a different story in New Zealand, where their coach, Laurie Mains, is talking revolution.

The South African Rugby Football Union is expected to meet the 28-strong World Cup winning squad this week, hoping to sign the players for the next three years. The squad spent the weekend at the Sun City resort to discuss the issue and met Louis Luyt, the president of Sarfu.

Luyt flew back early from Australia to meet the players and offer them contracts. He had been in Australia to discuss the 1996 season with Sanzar (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia), the body set up to administer Test matches and a Super 12 competition backed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

The South African players are expected to give their decision to a remuneration package - believed to match that offered by Kerry Packer - on Thursday.

It is believed that all 28 Springboks have signed letters of intent to join Packer's World Rugby Corporation, but these did not amount to contracts. If package was acceptable, the Packer letters could be torn up.

The rift in New Zealand rugby union widened yesterday with Mains talking of a rugby "revolution", while officials urged players not to rush into signing for the WRC.

"Often it takes revolution to get evolution," Mains said on Radio New Zealand. "Maybe there'll be a bit of bloodletting, but I've got no doubt the people of rugby around the world will come out of it stronger."

Mains's comments appeared to align him with the WRC, but he refused to confirm reports that 23 of the squad of 26 players had signed letters of intent with WRC. The New Zealand Rugby Football Union has its own contracts on the table, but the players are reported to be unhappy with the terms.

Three Irish rugby union players have been included in the Irish rugby league side to face Scotland in the curtain-raiser for the Charity Shield game between Wigan and Leeds in Dublin on Sunday week.

Terry Flanagan, Ireland's joint coach, said: "There are big changes going ahead with rugby union becoming professional and we are delighted to play a part in history."