Welsh referees may strike

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The Independent Online
Welsh referees have threatened to "withdraw their services" from all games played in Wales from 20 December in a dispute over pay.

The referees announced their decision last night after failing to persuade the Welsh Rugby Union to pay officials in charge of all five divisions of the National League.

A statement from the WRU said: "Negotiations between the WRU and representatives of the Welsh Society of Rugby Union Referees broke down tonight."

The referees demanded payment for handling domestic matches involving clubs from the top five divisions of the Welsh National League.

The WRU General Committee have agreed in principle to pay the referees officiating only in the first and second divisions, providing that they sign contracts with the Union.

The WRU have argued that, given the largely amateur status of the third, fourth and fifth divisions, they would favour an amateur status for referees handling games at those levels.

Terry Vaux, chairman of the WRU Referees Committee, said: "We have been guided by the international practice in this particular instance and we can safely say that in Ireland and Scotland referees are not paid for club games while in England the payment comes from a special fund set up for the referees by the RFU League sponsor Courage."

Terry Kingston, the former Ireland hooker and captain, has announced his retirement from representative rugby. "I had a most enjoyable career but the time has come for me to step aside. I want to devote more time to my job," he said.

Kingston is a director of a computer accessories and systems company in his native Cork in the Republic of Ireland. He won 29 caps and played in all three World Cup tournaments, captaining Ireland in South Africa last year.

The 33-year-old Kingston, who will continue to turn out for his club Dolphin, was on Ireland's tours to Namibia in 1991, New Zealand in 1992 and Australia in 1994 and won his last cap against France in Paris last season.

Kevin Bowring, the Wales coach, and Terry Cobner, the Welsh Rugby Union director of rugby, will be at Twickenham today before selecting the side to play South Africa on Sunday week. They will be especially interested in the four Welshmen playing for the Barbarians - Scott Quinnell, his brother Craig, Allan Bateman, Dale McIntosh and Nigel Walker.

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