Jeremy Guscott may have dismissed the historic cross code Rugby Challenge as "a pointless exercise" but Wigan and Bath are taking the two-match series very seriously.
Wigan have even bought a scrum machine in readiness for the match at Twickenham, to be played under union rules on 25 May, while Bath hope to announce later this week that they have obtained the services of a leading rugby league coach to help them prepare for the 13-man version at Maine Road, Manchester on 8 May.
Negotiations are under way for a live television deal and with more sponsors expected to join Save and Prosper, each club is expected to make between pounds 250,000 and pounds 400,000.
The presence of Guscott would almost certainly boost interest and the Bath manager, Jon Hall, says he intends asking the England centre to reconsider his decision not to take part in either match.
"Jerry wasn't under contract at the time," Hall said yesterday. "His comments were a bit off the cuff. I don't think he realised the magnitude and the scale of these two games."
Hall confirmed there would be financial rewards for Bath players taking part in the series. Joe Lydon, Wigan's assistant coach and utility back, said: "I'd like to see [Guscott] play, to see how he'd cope with it. "
However, Hall pointed out that Guscott was not certain to be picked for the league version anyway. "We have had several rugby league sessions and quite a few players in the squad have been staking their claim." This was borne out when the Bath captain, Phil de Glanville, said not even he was guaranteed a place in the Bath rugby league team.
The Wigan wing Martin Offiah thinks that each club will win its own game. "We have no chance of winning the rugby union game, but that is not the point of the matches. It will be a showcase for individual players to reveal their talents and I would welcome an opportunity to play for a rugby union club again."
The Wasps and England threequarter, Damian Hopley, has been appointed captain of England for the Hong Kong Sevens, which take place at the end of the month. The rest of the squad will be named on Sunday.
Gloucester have unveiled plans for a new pounds 15m, 18,000 capacity stadium at their Kingsholm ground.
The Welsh Rugby Union admits Gareth Llewellyn will almost certainly be a Harlequin next season despite its block on his transfer request. "It is no secret within the WRU that a number of people think this regulation is unsustainable," said Selwyn Walters, the chairman of the committee which turned Llewellyn's request down.Reuse content