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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Orrell reject takeover bid
Orrell won the Powergen Shield in 2003
Orrell chiefs have turned down a takeover bid from a South African consortium looking to buy their way into the Zurich Premiership.

The Division One side was targeted by millionaire businessman Johann Rupert.

According to the Sunday Times, he hoped to move the club to QPR's Loftus Road, rename it London Tribe and sign a host of big name South Africans.

But Orrell chief executive Maurice Lindsay said: "We have not agreed to sell Orrell to anyone."

Rupert, who also reportedly approached Saracens, Harlequins, London Irish and Wasps, is keen to tap into the commercial opportunities in English rugby's top flight.

But Lindsay said: "It is true that we have had an approach from an agent in London and his solicitor, acting on behalf of a South African consortium and we are aware that we are not the only club they have approached.

The aim is certainly not to create a 'London Boks' side
Springbok star Bobby Skinstad

"It would be totally wrong, however, to suggest that we are set to sell the Orrell club. On the contrary, we have started the construction of a new clubhouse following the fire which destroyed the old one a year ago."

The Times on Monday reported that Rupert's bid would be headed by former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, with Springbok star Bobby Skinstad as spokesman.

But Skinstad rejected allegations that the aim was to create a South Africa-centric club.

"The aim is certainly not to create a 'London Boks' side soley to benefit South African rugby," he told The Times.

"We don't want to try and change anything in the English leagues. We believe they are doing the best job in world rugby at the moment. England is where rugby is developing."

Orrell, second in Division One, are owned by Dave Whelan, the founder of the JJB Sports goods empire and also owner of Wigan's football and rugby league teams.

But Whelan has made it clear he is set to give the club back to its members after building a new clubhouse.

"In effect they will have a clean sheet of paper with a 2m asset underpinning them," said Lindsay.

"We feel satisfied that we have rescued the club from oblivion and got it back into a competitive situation."

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