More worries for Rowell as Baa-Baas call on five of squad

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The Independent Online
RUGBY UNION The Barbarians' game at Leicester next Tuesday may be a Christmas celebration for most but for Jack Rowell, the England manager, it became a cause for concern yesterday when the Baa-Baas chose five of his squad in addition to the seven he hasfrom Leicester.

Callard, Hopley, Beal, Dawe and Shaw make up the quintet scheduled for warm-weather training on Lanzarote over the New Year, but a good proportion of the squad have had hardly any rugby since mid-November so it is probably about time as many as possible reacquainted themselves with that oval thing they used to know so well.

Three of the Barbarians - Jonathan Callard, Craig Chalmers and the Newport South African Guy Manson-Bishop - who beat the Springboks will play again in a team containing only seven full internationals and none of the overseas attractions that have been afeature of this traditional fixture in recent times.

For at least one non-squad member, the Bristol captain Derek Eves, the game at Welford Road will be about more than holiday gallivanting as it gives him the opportunity of direct back-row comparison with Neil Back. Likewise another Bristolian, Simon Sha w , with Martin Johnson, and in both instances there will be a repeat opportunity when Bristol play Leicester in the Pilkington Cup on 28 January.

John Pearson, from Yarm near Middlesbrough, will referee his first international when he takes the France v Wales match in Paris on 21 January. Brian Campsall, Steve Lander and the two most experienced English officials, Ed Morrison and Tony Spreadbury, join him on the international referees' panel of five named by the Rugby Football Union yesterday.

With the World Cup now only five months away, it will be a critical Five Nations' Championship for referees and Pearson's appointment does not bode well for the more obvious English World Cup choices, Morrison and Spreadbury.

There is said to be a feeling within the RFU that these two excellent West Country officials are too close to the players, and this has made their positions vulnerable. If it is true they are being privately criticised for attempting to communicate, it is a scandal.

Barbarians (v Leicester, 27 December): J Callard (Bath); D Hopley (Wasps), N Beal (Northampton), M Taylor (Pontypool), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers (Melrose), R Howley (Bridgend); R Evans (Llanelli), G Dawe (Bath), P Burnell (London Scottish), SShaw, A Blackmore (Bristol), E Peters (Bath), G Manson- Bishop (Newport), D Eves (Bristol).