IRELAND'S tour to South Africa has been saved after some frantic negotiating yesterday afternoon between the players' representative Niall Woods and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne. In what will amount to a victory for player power, the union has come up with a compromise package on the sticky issue of the players' tour fee.

Browne addressed the players after Friday afternoon's warm-up match at Lansdowne Road, and offered them contracts including a tour fee of .4,500, which the players duly rejected pending the outcome of a meeting of all 26 tourists, which had been scheduled for the CityWest Hotel this evening.

It's understood Browne also met with Woods on Friday evening before contacting him again yesterday afternoon. Not only had he an improved offer but he also acceded to the players' request that there be posttour talks concerning the match fees and win bonus scheme that has not been improved since 1998.

Woods then contacted the players to get their response, which was positive. Eddie O'Sullivan's 26-man squad assembles in CityWest this evening for a week's training before flying out to Cape Town next Saturday.