Top clubs propose changes

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

ROBERT COLE

The leading clubs will present the Welsh chairman, Vernon Pugh, with a list of "proposals for change" amid the continuing threat of a breakaway by top sides.

Representatives from the 12 First Division clubs met in Cardiff yesterday to debate the way forward in the wake of the latest crisis to engulf Welsh rugby.

A carefully prepared statement made it clear the clubs were anxious to take the heat out of a situation that had rapidly escalated into a dangerous "them and us" showdown. The clear implication is that the major clubs will expect to be granted a stronger voice in the formulation of policy decisions.

The league champions, Cardiff, the runners-up Pontypridd, and the cup holders Swansea spearheaded a push for immediate action from the Union to halt the alarming decline at international level.

After winning the Five Nations' Championship in 1994, Wales crashed to a championship whitewash this year - quickly followed by a humiliating early World Cup exit from South Africa last month. The only victory in their last eight Tests was against Japan.

The Wales scrum-half Robert Jones, working as a development officer for Western Province, has his knee in plaster after he tore medial ligaments in training.

n Francois Pienaar, who led South Africa to the World Cup last month, and two of his Springbok team-mates met the South African Rugby Football Union's president, Louis Luyt, yesterday but failed to defuse a pay dispute within the country's leading province, Transvaal.

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