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.

BATH v WIGAN

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)

News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore