WRU and clubs hold talks

Rugby Union
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The Independent Online
Talks are underway aimed at resolving the club versus country training dispute in Wales. Welsh Rugby Union coaching staff, headed by director of rugby Terry Cobner, met First Division Ltd representatives yesterday to begin finding a solution.

Cobner and the Wales coach, Kevin Bowring, had outlined a training structure for all the WRU's contracted national squad players before touring North America. But the eight Premier Division clubs, led by Cardiff, refused to accept it.

The situation worsened during the build-up to last Saturday's Test match against Romania when Cardiff's internationals boycotted club and country training sessions in protest.

Wales are holding daily work-outs, but club officials claim they clash with their intensive sessions, leaving players mentally and physically exhausted.

"The atmosphere of today's meeting was extremely encouraging and has opened up the avenue where continued discussions can take place with individual clubs," Cobner said yesterday.

The number of Wales sessions will be reduced providing clubs can maintain the fitness levels Bowring requires for his squad members.

The former Wales coach, Alec Evans, has been short-listed with three other candidates to replace the Australia coach Greg Smith. Evans joins Australian Capital Territory coach Rod MacQueen, Queensland's John Connolly and Australia under-21 team coach Ian Kennedy on the shortlist.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union is to put a proposal to the International Rugby Football Board for a pan-Pacific competition. Sam-oa, Tonga, Fiji, Japan, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada and Argentina are the teams set to benefit if the tournament goes ahead, possibly in 1999.