England captain's Lions fury

Fran Cotton must be wondering whether it might be easier to dust off his boots and take on the Springboks himself. When he agreed to manage the Lions in South Africa this summer, the former England prop was relishing the prospect of a scrap or two along the way - he was never one to shirk a fight, after all - but he probably considered himself safe from the flak until his arrival in Johannesburg.

Wrong. Six days after receiving an earful from Will Carling on the subject of the Lions tour - the eminent Harlequin's anger at being accused by the manager of using the captaincy as a bargaining tool oscillated between wrath and rage - Cotton yesterday ran into another fusillade from Phil de Glanville, Carling's fellow England centre and successor as national skipper.

De Glanville, left out of Cotton's preliminary squad of 62, fired his bullets in the hallowed surrounding of the Cambridge Union, no less. "It is no great secret that I do not get on with Fran Cotton," he told a group of students attending the latest in a series of addresses by leading British sportsmen. "When I was one of the England players' representatives during difficult early negotiations with the Rugby Football Union this season, I had some interesting discussions with him and, when he was subsequently appointed Lions manager, I thought it unlikely that I would be going to South Africa. International selection is a personal thing."

Given that De Glanville had already signalled his displeasure at the entire concept of a preliminary squad, the purpose of which has never been entirely clear, it can be assumed that he has now slammed the Lions door firmly in his own face. Cotton, who was attending meetings in London yesterday and was unavailable for comment, would probably pick himself at centre before either of the England first-choices.

Much to the muted disappointment of those who saw Jeremy Guscott confirm his status as a world-class performer in the final three minutes of the victory over Ireland in Dublin last weekend, De Glanville and Carling will still be first choices when England take on France in a climactic Five Nations shoot-out at Twickenham on Saturday week. Guscott returns to the bench, as does Austin Healey, the Leicester scrum-half who also caught the eye at Lansdowne Road.

Jack Rowell's decision to name an unchanged team was hardly earth-shattering. Indeed, Guscott's brilliance in setting up two late tries for Tony Underwood might even have confirmed the England coach in a belief that his old Bath protege is perfect bench material - a stiletto-sharp runner, tailor-made to take advantage of tiring defences and widening gaps towards the end of a match. In which case, the outlook looks even more depressing for Guscott than a week ago, for he is enough of a traditionalist to believe that rugby is about 15 players, not 21.

In defence of making consistency his chief virtue, Rowell will point to England's 1995 Grand Slam campaign, when the same 15 served in all four matches. It was a similar story in 1991, when England also went through the Five Nations unbeaten. In the other Grand Slam year of the decade, 1992, they made only one change, bringing in Dean Richards for Tim Rodber for the second half of the championship.

There are, however, changes to the A side for the second-string international with France tomorrow week. The Bath prop, Kevin Yates, and the Gloucester lock, Dave Sims, are restored to the tight five while Chris Sheasby of Wasps returns to the back row. They replace Rob Hardwick, John Fowler and Martin Corry respectively.

Richard Cockerill of Leicester replaces his club-mate, Dorian West, at hooker after filling in for Phil Greening on the senior bench in Dublin. At half-back, Kyran Bracken and Alex King return from injury for the Gloucester pairing of Scott Benton and Mark Mapletoft.

Several Welsh rugby clubs are considering taking the Welsh Rugby Union to court if the top division of the National League is reduced from 12 to eight teams next season.

Several clubs in the relegation zone as well as Division Two's leading teams are up in arms. Llandovery are to seek compensation of at least pounds 25,000 if they cannot be promoted, Aberavon have threatened a writ and Treorchy are ready to take out an injunction.

The luckless Scott Hastings, dropped from the full Scotland side and A team, has had to drop out of the squad for the World Cup Sevens after injuring his knee in practice.

Ian Smith, the Scottish international flanker, has severed ties with Gloucester, his home-town club, and agreed terms with Second Division Moseley yesterday.

ENGLAND (v France, Five Nations' Championship, Twickenham, 1 March): T Stimpson (Newcastle); J Sleightholme (Bath), W Carling (Harlequins), P de Glanville (Bath, capt), T Underwood (Newcastle); P Grayson (Northampton), A Gomarsall (Wasps); G Rowntree (Leicester), M Regan (Bristol), J Leonard (Harlequins), M Johnson (Leicester), S Shaw (Bristol), L Dallaglio (Wasps), T Rodber (Northampton), R Hill (Saracens). Replacements: J Guscott (Bath), M Catt (Bath), A Healey (Leicester), D Garforth (Leicester), P Greening (Gloucester), B Clarke (Richmond).

FRANCE SQUAD: Backs: G Accoceberry (Begles-Bordeaux), D Aucagne (Pau), P Carbonneau (Brive), S Glas (Bourgoin-Jallieu), C Lamaison (Brive), L Leflamand (Bourgoin), A Penaud (Brive), J-L Sadourny (Colomiers), D Venditti (Brive), U Mola (Dax). Forwards: A Benazzi (Agen), C Califano (Toulouse), R Castel (Beziers), M Dal Maso (Agen), M de Rougemont (Toulon), J-L Jordana (Toulouse), O Magne (Dax), O Merle (Montferrand), H Miorin (Toulouse), F Pelous (Dax), F Tournaire (Narbonne).

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all