Leading names are badly needed to help promote the competition. Tonight, for example, Will Carling was to have appeared at the Arms Park as the Harlequins stand-off. That has now been put on ice until 9 October after Cardiff claimed they could not raise a front row - playing without specialist front-row forwards would have been in contravention of the game's safety regulations.
London Irish's fixture at Ebbw Vale will have to be rearranged because of the commitments to Ireland's series of warm-up matches against Munster (last weekend) and Leinster (on Sunday).
Neath and Bristol nearly did not make it. The Welsh language television company Sanel Pedwar Cymru had offered the Welsh All Blacks pounds 10,000 for the live broadcasting rights for last night's match. Bristol objected, arguing that since selling the TV rights involved bringing forward the kick-off time from 7.15pm to 6.10pm, several of their team would have a problem getting to The Gnoll in time.
Bath are taking the competition seriously, though. Henry Paul and Jason Robinson, their recruits from rugby league, are expected to make their debuts at the Recreation Ground before an 8,500 crowd. The visitors, Swansea, will also have to face their former back-rower Richard Webster, another league import.Reuse content