Lomu approached for World XV

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The Independent Online
STEVE BALE

Jonah Lomu, England's World Cup nemesis, could grace Twickenham for the first time in April if Leicester attract the quality of player they want for an inaugural match between England's champions and a world XV, from which the Tigers anticipate making pounds 100,000.

Yesterday's announcement at Twickenham had been postponed from last Wednesday on the grounds that contractual matters had not been resolved, though it is widely suspected that both Leicester and the Rugby Football Union imagined that it was more elitist than the rank-and-file at last Sunday's RFU special meeting would tolerate.

In the end it made no difference to the delegates in Birmingham, who were determined to stick two fingers up at the governing body come what may. That the fixture, which marks the RFU's 125th anniversary, will be supported by another Japanese rugby sponsor, Sanyo, for three years if the first one proves a success is an overt element of the new professionalism.

Leicester are hiring the ground and will pocket the proceeds unless, with the RFU projecting a crowd of up to 30,000, they are sufficient to disburse some of them to fellow-members of the First Division. The problem will come in selecting a world team worthy of the billing, given that the game - on Sunday, 21 April - takes place at the same time as the southern- hemisphere Super 12 provincial competition.

Though Lomu's province, Counties, will be involved in the Auckland set- up for the purposes of the series, an initial approach, doubtless offering to make it worth the All Black wing's while, has already been made. Otherwise, Leicester anticipate that their opponents will comprise no more than two players from each country, including two Japanese.

Meanwhile Peter Wheeler, the Leicester chief executive, and his Cardiff equivalent, Gareth Davies, have met leading Scottish clubs to form a united front in the continuing fractiousness with their respective rugby unions. Next, Wheeler will meet representatives of the French clubs when he is in Paris for the England match at the weekend.

The Scottish clubs, led by Melrose, the champions, have called a special general meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union - at Murrayfield on 9 February - with a view to overturning the SRU decision to enter districts XVs in next season's European Cup. The clubs have already pulled off something of a coup by persuading Gavin Hastings, the recent Scotland captain, to present their case.

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