Bath may have to bore to win

Rugby Union

Having pilloried Leicester for the way they played the last time Bath were at Twickenham, English rugby union's double-winners will be hoist with their own petard if they try to dismantle Wigan by similar means in this afternoon's challenge match at Twickenham.

Mind you, 82-6 - the score when the 13-a-side champions annihilated Bath under rugby league rules 17 days ago - requires an awful lot of revenge and there is no way Bath will simply abandon those facets of union which league folk tend to treat with disdain and distaste.

So we can anticipate an early attempt to take the strength out of the Wigan forwards, unused as they are to scrummaging, rucking and mauling, before Bath try to do what they are best at: a rugby of motion and not, Leicester-fashion, slow motion.

At least, they better had. "I know winning is important but if it's only going to come down to scrum, ruck and maul we should give all the money back," Maurice Lindsay, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said. "It would be a shame for the supporters because it's boring and crude."

Even accepting that crudity is in the eye of the beholder, Bath can but agree. As he has been reminded this week, after his side had eked out their cup-final victory John Hall, the Bath manager, said it would have been a "disaster" if Leicester had won because to win so much possession but do so little with it was "criminal".

Paradoxically, if Bath were to do the same today, it would be their best guarantee of a conclusive - though scarcely handsome - win. But in the inter-code comparison rugby union would then be massively the loser. "We are very open to criticism if we do that but we have to use what advantages we have," Hall said.

This applies particularly in the ball-winning phases, though hardly when it comes to ball-using. Wigan have a threequarter line any rugby union coach would die for and if they are permitted anything like the room they have in rugby league Bath are bound to be in difficulty, as the Middlesex Sevens so tellingly revealed a fortnight ago.

"It's a bit of a step into the unknown, especially when they get possession of the ball," Brian Ashton, the Wiganer who coaches Bath, said. "It will be interesting to see whether their rugby league style can adapt to the reduced time and space available in rugby union."

As for getting the ball in the first place, Wigan, who have been staying at the hotel in Bagshot patronised by the All Blacks the last time they were here, were given a session at Ruislip Rugby Club last night by the former Rosslyn Park captain Phil Keith-Roach, England's premier scrummaging coach.

Also present was the Ruislip coach, Bob Mordell, who was a rugby league professional with Oldham, and a London referee, Tim Miller, who sought to give the Wigan players an insight into the thinking of today's referee, Brian Campsall, a Yorkshireman who happens to be well-versed in both codes.

Today's crowd will approach Twickenham's restricted capacity of 50,000 and it is noteworthy in itself that the game is taking place at HQ after the obstacles the Rugby Football Union initially placed in its way.

When they had their bright idea Bath were told they could not have the ground because the turf needed reseeding but once it became clear that a historic occasion could pass to Cardiff Arms Park the RFU suddenly decided the reseeding could wait.

Bath will not, however, be granted the privilege of using the warm-up facilities normally used by England but as Save & Prosper, which sponsors all the Twickenham internationals, has also lent its name to Bath v Wigan, we can suppose that after all it has the official seal of approval.


at Twickenham

J Callard 16/15 K Radlinski

A Lumsden 15/14 J Robinson

P de Glanville (capt) 14/13 H Paul

A Adebayo 12 G Connolly

J Sleightholme 11 M Offiah

M Catt 10 J Lydon

I Sanders 9 C Murdock

K Yates 1 T O'Connor

G Dawe 2 M Hall

V Ubogu 3 N Cowie

M Haag 4 G West

N Redman 5 A Farrell (capt)

A Robinson 6 S Tatupu

S Ojomoh 8 S Quinnell

E Pearce 7 V Tuigamala

Referee: Brian Campsall (Halifax). Kick-off: 3.0 (Sky Sports)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Louis van Gaal
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own