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England opt for central contracts

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    England opt for central contracts

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    Or soPaul Ackfordin the Torygraph would have us believe -
    <H1>Revolution for English rugby </H1>

    @@@@SPAN =storyby>By Paul Ackford, Sunday Telegraph@@@@/SPAN>

    <DIV style="FLOAT: left">@@@@SPAN =d>Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="COLOR: #000">12:24am GMT@@@@/SPAN>21/01/2007@@@@/SPAN></DIV>

    English rugby's bitter club versus country row could be resolved this week after it was agreed on Friday that the top 32 players in the country should be contracted to the Rugby Football Union.

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=207 align=right border=0 ="0">
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    A meeting between the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation representing England's top clubs, concluded with the clubs agreeing in principle to a form of central contracts. The deal awaits ratification from the chairmen and major shareholders who assemble on Thursday but, if agreed, England's top players will be managed lock, stock and barrel by Brian Ashton, the head coach, from the start of next season.
    In return, the clubs will receive a compensation payment approaching £5 million and be allowed to increase their squad sizes.
    England will then fall into line with every other major rugby-playing country in the world, except France, where the elite players are controlled by the union. Ashton would have the final say over when his elite squad would play and his medical team would also be responsible for their well-being. Outside of autumn internationals, World Cups, overseas tours and Six Nations tournaments, the players would be freed up to return to their clubs.
    Another significant proposal, also under serious consideration this week, is a scheme to reward those Premiership clubs who produce England-qualified players. As of next season, the clubs where England players make up 60 per cent of their squad, such as Newcastle and Leicester, will be eligible for funding from a central RFU war chest. The target levels will increase year on year to the extent that, in year three, clubs would need 80 per cent of their squad to be England-qualified for the top handout.
    Both measures will improve the state of English rugby overnight. Ever since the sport went professional in 1995, the two issues that have bedevilled rugby have been the number of foreign players plying their trade in the Premiership and the limited access a raft of England coaches have had to their national squads. England's two most recent coaches, Andy Robinson and Sir Clive Woodward, both referred to these iniquities in their resignation speeches.
    The gathering which might just change the face of rugby in this country involved eight men: Nigel Wray, (Saracens chairman) and Peter Tom (his counterpart at Leicester) participated by video conferencing, while Francis Baron (RFU chief executive), Martyn Thomas (RFU chairman), Rob Andrew (RFU elite director of rugby), Peter Wheeler (Leicester chief executive), Mark McCafferty (Premier Rugby chief executive) and Tom Walkinshaw (Premier Rugby chairman) all attended in person.
    Both sides have had to pull back from previously entrenched position


    If it happens, then that's the beginning of the end for Ireland's recentfitness/freshness advantage over England.
    New infraction avoidance policy: a post may be described as imbecilic, but its author should never be described as an imbecile.



      True. Looks like they're finally sorting it out.[img]smileys/sad.gif[/img]

      It's good for the game though.