In, out, then in again

Robert Armstrong Rugby

It was the briefest of exiles. Less than 24 hours after being thrown out of the Five Nations Championship, England were reinstated with farcical speed after agreeing this week to toe the line laid down by the tournament’s governing committee.

Their expulsion was overturned shortly after Rugby Football Union representatives gave unconditional support to a legally binding 10-year agreement on the share-out of Five Nations television revenue.

However, it was not a total climbdown by England. Twickenham’s anxieties over perceived shortcomings in the 10-year accord will be addressed at a further meeting, probably early next month. The financial input of France, who have hitherto kept all the TV revenue from their home games, and Italy, who may require cash support from the other unions, are certain to figure high on the list of Rugby Football Union concerns. In short, this dispute is set to rumble on.

In effect, England agreed to be bound by the findings of an independent valuer, who will determine their contribution to the Five Nations pooled revenue, which could be up to 35- million.

Allan Hosie, chair of the Five Nations Committee, said he was delighted all the unions were now signatories to the agreement. “The Five Nations Championship without the participation of England would not have been the same,” he said in the understatement of the year.

England’s prompt reinstatement was also good news for BSkyB, with which they agreed the five-year 87,5-million deal that also precipitated their expulsion – and reintroduction in 1996 – and for Lloyds/TSB, the Five Nations’ title sponsor which has a ground- breaking agreement worth 12-million to the unions over three years. The sponsor would certainly have revised its financial commitment downwards had England not returned to the fold.

The status quo means that Italy, who enter the tournament next year, will not after all take England’s place this season. Instead England’s Calcutta Cup match against Scotland at Twickenham on February 20, for which all 74E000 seats have been sold, will go ahead as planned.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

More top stories

The politics of the Zuma-Zondo showdown

Any move made by the Zondo commission head or by former president Jacob Zuma must be calculated, because one mistake from either side could lead to a political fallout

Museveni declared winner of disputed Uganda election

Security personnel out in force as longtime president wins sixth term and main challenger Bobi Wine alleges rigging.

Pay-TV inquiry probes the Multichoice monopoly

Africa’s largest subscription television operator says it is under threat amid the emerging popularity of global platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime

​No apology or comfort as another Marikana mother dies without...

Nomawethu Ma’Bhengu Sompeta, whose funeral will be held this weekend, was unequivocal in calling out the government for its response to the Marikana massacre

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…