SRU offers 56 full-time contracts

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The Scottish Rugby Union has offered full-time contracts to 56 players as part of its plan to introduce professional rugby into Scotland.

Players who accept full-time employment will receive a basic salary of between pounds 20,000 and pounds 50,000 per annum. There will be additional match fees and a win bonus scheme covering the major club competitions and international matches.

Most contracts are for three years, although a small number are for one year, recognising the importance of continuity and building a strong squad for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

The contracts have been overseen by Ken Crichton, the SRU's staffing convenor. He described the payments as "realistic and fair, in accordance with the principle of trying to keep our best players in Scotland."

The SRU has recognised that some players will not wish to accept full- time contracts, and will offer part-time contracts, with match fees and win bonuses, to those players.

"This is a most exciting time in Scottish rugby, with our top players now being asked to treat their sport as their full-time profession - with all the added commitment that will involve. It will have a direct and beneficial impact on skills and fitness levels," Crichton said.

The SRU said they will announce the names of players who accept contracts, but they will not disclose details of individual deals.