England bring in third party to sort out pay dispute
A pay dispute that threatens to overshadow England's tour to Australia and New Zealand next month has still not been resolved after extensive negotiations.
Talks between the RFU and Team England Rugby (TER), the negotiating body for England's elite squad, have drawn a blank.
Both sides have now agreed for an independent third party to decide the issue.
England manager Martin Johnson this week named a 44-man squad for the five-match trip, which starts in Perth on June 8 and includes two Tests against Australia. England will also face New Zealand Maoris in Napier.
It is understood that players who feature in England's Test 22 against the Wallabies were set to receive additional match fees of £5,000 per Test -- plus a possible win bonus -- on top of the basic £7,800 tour payment.
If approved, that could mean some players earning at least £10,000 more than those not involved in either Test match.
The RFU and TER have now issued a joint statement setting out the latest position.
It read: "The RFU and TER have continued negotiations over player payments for the summer tour, but have failed to find a resolution.
"Both parties have therefore agreed that a mutually acceptable independent third party will review the arguments and make a recommendation which both parties have agreed will be binding.
"The timings around this confidential process are being finalised and neither party will make any further comment until the process is complete."
Meanwhile, Canterbury Crusaders are into their ninth consecutive Super 14 semi-final after a 40-22 win over the ACT Brumbies in Christchurch in what was effectively a quarter-final.
New South Wales Warratahs are also through to the play-offs following their 32-16 defeat of the Hurricanes.