Rugby: Commercial deals crucial to Italian bid

AN Italian bid to enter the Magners Celtic rugby league is likely to hinge on them securing more commercial backing, including a television deal, before the competition's board meet at the end of this month in Dublin.

David Jordan, the Glasgow-based director of Celtic Rugby, today revealed the Italians were "pushing hard" for inclusion with key talks looming.

"The Italians are keen to get involved at least at (rugby) union level. They are pushing the door hard in a lot of discussions which are taking place over the Six Nations period when the Italian team visit the Celtic unions and when the Celtic unions visit Rome.

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"But it is complex," said Jordan who made clear that backing was required to ensure that the newcomers were able to maintain their involvement all the way through a league campaign.

"They need to demonstrate sustainability. They need to bring a television partner because it is important we have coverage for any Magners League games taking place in Italy," he said.

It is understood the Italian Federation want two centrally-run teams, in Rome and Milan. Another issue is whether the Italians put forward newly-created amalgams of existing sides or else traditional names who earn the right to compete through their domestic league position.

"What is important is the structure of the bid; it is up to the Italians which type of entry they wish to put forward," said Jordan in confirming a Magners League board meeting at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, as Frank Hadden prepares to name a Scotland side later today for the visit of Ireland on Saturday, coaching predecessor Jim Telfer suggests second row Al Kellock did enough in the recent win over Italy to merit being retained.

Kellock was introduced to the side when Jim Hamilton was out injured and, making his views clear before it was considered likely that both Hamilton and Nathan Hines would both be fit to return, Telfer said of the win against Italy: "The line-out was very efficient with Alastair Kellock proving invaluable at providing great ball off the tail and also organising the defensive set-ups. Let's hope he did enough to hold on to his place."