DEREK Stark, the Boroughmuir winger, may be one of the first to

benefit from the Scottish Rugby Union's jobs initiative, aimed at

keeping Scotland's top players north of the Border.

Stark, 28, capped four times in 1993 and who scored a try against

Ireland with his first touch of the ball in Test rugby, has signed

provisional forms with the English first division club, West Hartlepool.

The Kilmarnock chef, a likely candidate for the Scotland World Cup

squad, is the latest in a string of leading Scottish players to have

exercised the option of playing rugby in England.

The GHK internationalist lock forward, Shade Munro, and Rowen

Shepherd, of Edinburgh Academicals, also have been linked with West

Hartlepool, where they would join Scottish flanker Rob Wainwright and

replacement scrum half Derrick Patterson.

Gala's Gregor Townsend has already indicated that he has signed forms

with Ian McGeechan's Northampton, while Peter Dods and Chris Dalgliesh,

from the Netherdale club, also have been targeted by wealthy English


The potential drain on Scotland's domestic playing resources has so

concerned the SRU that a Murrayfield working party has been established

to examine ways and means of providing worthwhile employment in Scotland

for Scottish players, attracted by the lure of job packages being

offered by clubs south of the Border.

The working party, which comprises SRU president Ken Smith, director

of rugby Jim Telfer, international board representative Freddie McLeod,

and SRU committee man Ken Crichton has met and is due to meet again next


Stark works for the family-run Foxbar Hotel in Kilmarnock which is

soon to be placed on the market, and he is currently seeking alternative

employment. ''I don't want to leave Scotland and I want to continue

playing for Boroughmuir, but I have to think of my future employment

prospects as well.

''I have signed forms with West Hartlepool to keep my options open.

Ideally, I would like to work in Edinburgh and continue to play at

Meggetland, but maybe that won't work out.''

Yesterday the SRU president declared: ''I had heard a suggestion that

Derek was thinking about moving south. He is just the type of player

that we want to keep in Scotland and he is certainly one of those we

will be talking about when we meet next week.''

Smith added: ''If all the players who have signed for English clubs

actually go, the Scottish game would be decimated. What we want to do is

to make the Scottish business community aware of the problem and ask

them if they can do anything to help.

* JOHN Connor, the Stirling Fibre waste-paper re-cycling magnate who

heads a consortium of businessmen who want to buy a Scottish rugby club,

has had three approaches from interested clubs.

''Two second division clubs and one from the fourth division have

expressed interest,'' said Connor. ''They do not want to be named but

they will talk to their committees and then we will take it from


* THE Division 1 game between West of Scotland and Edinburgh

Academicals, due to have gone ahead at Burnbrae tomorrow, has been


Accies have made use of the SRU dispensation ruling for clubs with

players involved in the squad for next Saturday's Twickenham


Jeremy Richardson, who will be on the Scottish bench in London, had

intended playing for Accies but will now be attending Saturday's

Scotland training session at Murrayfield.

* THE SRU have announced that, as from this weekend, league matches

postponed due to bad weather can be played the following day if both

clubs agree.