Callard pays the price as Bath opt for Catt

Rugby Union
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Jack Rowell needs support wherever he can get it but yesterday it came from the most obvious place - his old club - when one poor kicking performance by Jonathan Callard was enough to persuade the Bath selectors to put Mike Catt into his England place at full-back against Wasps tomorrow.

But if this is felicitous news for the England manager ahead of the Scotland match on 2 March for which Catt is already chosen, it is viciously cruel on Callard. His outstanding club season counted for nothing once he missed four of six kicks at Wakefield - lapses which meant Bath required a last- minute try to scrape into the quarter-finals.

When Catt, who has usually been Bath's outside-half since Stuart Barnes's retirement in 1994, last week decided to make his future exclusively at full-back he acknowledged that he might have to spend the rest of the season playing there for the Bath second team while Callard carried on for the firsts.

Yesterday Callard, who recently lost his job as a teacher, did his best to contain his disappointment. "I've just got to get on with it; there'll be another opportunity," he said. Already this season he has been recalled and discarded by England, Catt having taken his international place as well after his own disappointing show as the stand-off against South Africa in November.

"Jon's kicking is vital to his selection," John Hall, the Bath manager, said, unaccountably disregarding Callard's many other qualities. Catt resolved to make a permanent switch after a series of ineffectual games as England's full-back had made him look as if he could use all the practice he could get.

The more immediate internationsl issue is tomorrow's Five Nations matches in which England are not involved, and Ireland's chance of a first-ever win at Parc des Princes was reduced yesterday when Simon Geoghegan withdrew with a hamstring injury. Richard Wallace, who had been dropped for this match, has consequently been recalled on the right wing.

But the Irish problems after their surprise defeat by Scotland do not end there. Wallace's brother Paul is on stand-by to face the French at prop because Peter Clohessy has a back injury. Neil Francis, whose international career finally appeared to be behind him when he too was dropped, stands by lest Jeremy Davidson fails to recover from an eye injury. If he withdraws, Patrick Johns would return to the back row to accommodate Francis at lock.

Meanwhile Garath Archer, England's new lock, will not take the customary break one week before his debut at Murrayfield, preferring to face Bath for Bristol in the cup quarter-final next Saturday. The cup will also see the debut of Mark Ring, the ex-Wales centre-cum-stand-off, for West Hartlepool at London Irish.

Dods in the family business, page 28

Comments