When Carling gave up the captaincy at the end of last season's Five Nations' Championship, he insisted that he had every intention of prolonging his international career among the foot soldiers. Today, he faces a straight fight with his long-time partner Jeremy Guscott for the one available centre place against Italy on 23 November.
Which is not to say that he will necessarily lose that battle; Carling's recent club form for Harlequins has been everything it should be and more, and his enthusiasm for the rough and tumble of an unforgiving sport remains undiluted. But Guscott is in sensational nick and has the advantage of a lengthy club partnership with the new skipper. Unless Rowell gambles by playing either man out of position, he will have to leave one of them out and whoever goes over the edge will make an awfully big splash.
For De Glanville, who took over the Bath captaincy last year and won the league and cup double at his first attempt, selection is no longer an issue - not his own, at any rate. The 28-year-old Oxford Blue, born in Loughborough but forged in the fires of the most successful club outfit in English rugby history, will be the first name on the team sheet until the end of the season and, if all goes well, far beyond.
"I'm confident I'll be at the next World Cup in 1999," he said yesterday, blinking through the dazzle of a hundred flashbulbs. "Will Carling did fantastic things for English rugby, thrusting it into the forefront of the world game, and he remains a tremendous player. But now is the time for someone new to put his stamp on the side, to bring a positive attitude towards the way we play at international level."
Captain and coach have worked closely together since 1990, when De Glanville joined Bath from Oxford. Rowell left the Recreation Ground to take over the England job in 1994, by which time his protege was already a fixture in the national squad.
Notoriously, the coach's relationship with Carling had more downs than ups; but now that he has manoeuvred a familiar and trusted face into a position of such influence, Rowell can move ahead more confidently with a radical restructuring of his side.
"Jack and I go back a long way," De Glanville said. "We can be straight with each other and we will be in the future, I'm sure. If something needs saying, I'm the sort to say it. So is Jack, of course, but I see myself as a representative of the players and a conduit between them and the governing body, and that is an important position to be in. There is an awful lot to sort out immediately, particularly off the pitch, and I want to see the Rugby Football Union sit down with the clubs and hammer out an agreement so that we can all get on with the game."
So there. Like almost every other member of the 43-strong England squad, De Glanville has yet to sign an RFU contract that would virtually guarantee him around pounds 70,000 for this season's activities at international level. As the grey suits in the corridors of power are likely to discover sooner rather than later, he is nobody's pushover.
Thanks to his promotion, however, he is unlikely to need his international money to stave off the bailiffs. Carling glamorised the job of England captain to such an extent during his eight years at the helm that De Glanville, who has already been snapped up by the agency that markets Anthea Turner, can expect commercial spin-offs worth at least pounds 200,000 a season and possibly a great deal more.
Rowell admitted yesterday that other names had come under consideration for the top job and that he had spoken at length to all the candidates. Dallaglio, the Wasps captain, and Jason Leonard, his Harlequins counterpart and the most experienced forward in the England side, posed the greatest threats to De Glanville, but the coach emphasised that he had reached his decision early and had only delayed revealing all because of the political uncertainty off the field.
"I wanted someone not only good enough to hold his place but who had the respect of his colleagues and possessed the ability to read a game and adjust to whatever demands might arise. This is a big challenge for Phil but then, he has come through a very challenging period of captaincy at Bath where the weight of expectation is always heavy."
Rowell was due to name the England side to face Italy before today's training session at Bisham Abbey. Tim Stimpson, the Newcastle full-back, Adedayo Adebayo, the Bath wing, and two young forwards, Phil Greening of Gloucester and Simon Shaw of Bristol, were all in the frame for a first cap.
Yesterday, the RFU announced that their long-term sponsors, Cellnet, had injected another "substantial six-figure sum" into England's coffers. In return, the company will have their logo splashed across the national shirts throughout this season's seven-Test programme.
The hard centre, page 24
CAPTAIN'S LOG: THE
DE GLANVILLE FILE
England's new captain has two nicknames: "Blouse" (as in "a big girl's..."), which he earned during early days at Bath because of his frequent visits to the treatment table, and "Hollywood", because of his film-star looks
Did his best to earn the first nickname and lose the second by breaking his nose seven times. Also needed 15 stitches in his left eyelid after falling under the boots of the All Blacks pack
Has progressed to the highest point in the English game despite having the middle name Ranulph
Exotic names run in the family: his wife, a maths teacher, is called Yolanda
Father, Derek, sells scrummaging machines
Developed that Hollywood physique during long months of hard training as a 17-year-old while taking a year out in Australia
Has grown up a lot since he worked for Cow & Gate, the baby food manufacturers
Watch out Matt Dawson and Kyran Bracken: the new captain played scrum- half at school
Jack's lad rather than a Jack-the-lad: he first came under Jack Rowell's wing when he signed for Bath in 1990 while a student at Oxford
A team man: he refused to lead Bath up to collect the Pilkington Cup in 1995 until injured regular captain John Hall had left his Twickenham seat to lift the trophy
Has single-handedly kept sportswear manufacturers in business by wearing out umpteen pairs of shorts while sitting on England's replacement bench 22 times
Prudish spectators may be forced to cover their ears under pressure of the ferocious half-time team talks he delivers to his charges at the first sign of slackness
Received news of the England captaincy while playing golf with team-mate Jon SleightholmeReuse content