West sign Ring at second attempt

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

PAUL STEPHENS

West Hartlepool have persuaded Cardiff's Mark Ring to join them as player- coach after three months of negotiations.

Ring, 33, who won the last of 32 caps for Wales against Australia in 1991, has been playing centre this season but is expected to appear at outside-half for West, one of their problem positions in a troubled campaign which, after 10 successive defeats, looks certain to end in relegation.

Ring signed a registration form for West Hartlepool in November, then changed his mind when Cardiff offered him improved terms. But Ring is attracted to the coaching and development opportunities at West.

He hopes to emulate his close friend Paul Turner, who took Sale to promotion in 1994 and has turned them into an attractive and effective First Division team, with every chance of competing in next autumn's Heineken European Cup.

West have no game this weekend, but Ring will take charge of the squad as they prepare for their Pilkington Cup fifth-round tie against Coventry at Brierton Lane on Saturday week. Should West win, Ring will be eligible for the quarter-finals on 24 February and for league rugby in the rearranged First Division match with Bristol on 9 March.

Ring's arrival on a three-year contract signals the departure of Barry Forster after only six months of a two-year contract as director of rugby. Forster replaced Barry Taylor, who left after an acrimonious dispute midway through last season.

Leeds have signed Phil Davies, the Llanelli and Wales forward, on a three-year contract as director of rugby. Davies, who had signed registration forms with Harlequins, will finish the season at Llanelli.

Alan Sugar, the Tottenham Hotspur FC chairman, is reported to have had preliminary talks about buying a stake in Wasps. The club chairman, Sir Pat Lowry, said: "When we have an announcement to make it will be done in the proper, formal way."

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