A power struggle has broken out in the arcane world of the Rugby Football Union committee, with the man who had been chosen to lead the union into the professional era coming under challenge when the RFU holds a special general meeting in Birmingham in January.
The 18-man executive last month chose John Jeavons-Fellows, one of the RFU's International Board representatives, as their chairman in an election against Robert Horner of Kent. The appointment was due to be rubber-stamped at the special meeting which has the final say under the terms of the RFU's incorporation as an industrial and provident society.
However, Jeavons-Fellows's blunt style and accretion of power have made him enemies and he is to be opposed by Cliff Brittle, a non-executive member who lives on the Isle of Man but has represented Staffordshire on the RFU since 1989, at the special meeting.
In view of the impending contest, the RFU president, Bill Bishop, rather than the chairman-elect has been filling the chair at executive meetings. "Clearly the logical thing is that the committee should elect the chairman; we shouldn't have to go to the country with it," Tony Hallett, the RFU secretary, said.
Whatever the doubts over the merit of the Divisional Championship, it has done wonders for Alex King, 20, who has won the outside-half place in the England A team to play Western Samoa at Gateshead on 12 December on the strength of his performances for the South-West and Bristol University.
Likewise, the A-team's 20-year-old hooker, Phil Greening, though his equally giddy ascent has come by a more orthodox route with Gloucester. Richard West is the only full international selected.
The London team to play the tourists at Twickenham tomorrow is beefed up by Jason Leonard and Lawrence Dallaglio of the England forwards who faced South Africa. The Samoans will field nine of the side who drew with Scotland.
Moseley, of the Second Division, are hoping to sign Frano Botica from rugby league. The former All Black stand-off, 32, has been in talks with the club's playing director, Barrie Corless, who said yesterday: "He has expressed an interest in joining us and we are now attempting to put together a substantial package for him."
ENGLAND A (v Western Samoa, Gateshead, 12 December): T Stimpson (West Hartlepool); J Sleightholme (Bath), N Greenstock (Wasps), P Mensah (Harlequins), J Naylor (Orrell); A King (Bristol University), A Gomarsall (Wasps); K Yates (Bath), P Greening (Gloucester), D Garforth (Leicester), G Archer (Bristol), R West (Gloucester), M Corry (Bristol), A Diprose (capt), R Hill (Saracens). Replacements: A Blyth (West Hartlepool), W Greenwood (Harlequins), A Healey (Orrell), D Crompton (Bath), S Mitchell, R Jenkins (Harlequins).
LONDON (v Western Samoa, Twickenham, tomorrow): J Ufton (Wasps); D O'Leary, P Mensah (Harlequins), N Greenstock (Wasps), A Adebayo (Bath); D Pears (Harlequins), S Bates (Wasps, capt); J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), I Dunston (Wasps), S Snow, M Watson (Harlequins), L Dallaglio (Wasps), A Diprose (Saracens), R Jenkins (Harlequins). Replacements: S Roiser, G Gregory, A Gomarsall (Wasps), S Brown, S Mitchell (Harlequins), M White (Wasps).
The Welsh succession, page 27