Turner to lead Bedford crusade

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
It says something about the size of Bedford's two coups yesterday that the recruitment of Geoff Cooke, the former England manager, was probably of secondary excitement to the announcement that Paul Turner, the Welsh mastermind of Sale's resurgence, has been signed up as player-coach.

His influence on the top flight of English rugby has been such that his fellow First Division players voted him the No1 stand-off last year, before a falling-out ended his liaison with the Manchester club.

"I'm raring to go," he said. "There would seem to be so much untapped rugby potential in the county of Bedford and I'm thrilled to be working with a group of people who have a clear vision of where rugby is going in the new professional era."

It is his vision that Bedford will be paying for - the mastery of the game which made Sale unique among sides promoted to the First Division in that they actually prospered there.

So it is hardly surprising that Bedford are regarding their newcomers - Cooke will be director of rugby - with unconcealed delight. The move comes about directly through their connection with Sports Network Europe, a partnership involving Frank Warren, which will take a 50 per cent stake in the club. Bob Burrows, the former head of ITV Sport, is SNE's representative at the club, and becomes its chief executive. "In my opinion, Cooke and Turner will be the 'dream team' to handle the playing affairs of the new Bedford rugby club," he said. "They provide an irresistible combination in our ambition to restore Bedford to former glories."

Cooke, who took England to one World Cup final and two Grand Slams, said: "We have some exciting plans and a number of top names have expressed an interest in playing a part in our future. Our priority is to take the club back to its rightful position in Division One. The club and the people of Bedford deserve nothing else."

The people of Richmond no doubt think something similar as rugby's map changes according to where the money is. Yesterday, Craig Quinnell left Llanelli to join his brother Scott at Richmond, bringing to five the number of internationals they can field in the pack. The back row of Quinnell, Quinnell and Ben Clarke will be as good as any in the land, let alone the Second Division.

Still in the Second, Moseley have found a seven-man consortium of local businessmen to invest pounds 600,000 in the club, and have called a special meeting on 11 July to turn the club into a limited company.

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