Stimpson opts to join Andrew at Newcastle

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The Independent Online
The harsh facts of new-age rugby could not have been better illustrated than yesterday, when Newcastle got their man and Moseley did not, writes David Llewellyn. The reason of course is money.

Newcastle's director of rugby, Rob Andrew, secured the signature of West Hartlepool's full-back Tim Stimpson, who has impressed at England A level, but their Second Division colleagues Moseley appeared to have lost out to Orrell in the race to sign the former All Black stand-off Frano Botica, who plays rugby league for Castleford.

Stimpson's move deeper into the North-east involved a lot of soul searching on the part of the West Hartlepool captain. "It's a very exciting prospect," Stimpson, 22, said last night. "Of all the clubs I could have joined I feel Newcastle will be extremely competitive next year in the Second Division. And I feel they will become a major force in the game in years to come."

Andrew said: "This is a very important signing for us. Tim has had an outstanding season with England A. A lot of clubs have been after him, but I've been after him right from the word go. It's been a difficult decision for him, he feels a sense of responsibility to West. It's a decision he has thought about very carefully."

Stimpson, who captained Durham University, will stay at Brierton Lane until the end of the season, although how often he turns out depends on how quickly he recovers from a rib injury sustained in the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend. He certainly misses Orrell's visit to West tomorrow.

Orrell had to outbid Moseley, who had reportedly offered pounds 40,000 to Botica, and Peter Williams, Moseley's director of rugby, admitted: "We have been talking to Frano for quite a while, but so have a lot of other clubs. Orrell have made him a substantial offer, possibly for two years, and he is thinking things over."

Moseley have decided not to increase their offer and are resigned to losing out. "We haven't heard from Frano yet but I would presume that at some stage he will give me a call to say he has accepted Orrell's offer," Moseley's playing director, Barrie Corless said. "We are not going to get involved in a Dutch auction. Orrell have offered him more than we have and, if the figures we have heard are accurate, we don't even get to the start line."