Rugby Union: Bath plan ahead and face Wasps cup tie without Hill: Former England captain's club career drawing to a close - Anglo-Welsh contest back on agenda

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The Independent Online
RICHARD HILL, an England captain of the distant and dim past as well as a stalwart member of the 1991 World Cup final team, was yesterday left out of the Bath team for Saturday's momentous Pilkington Cup tie against Wasps, writes Steve Bale.

This is less an indignity than an inevitable progression, since Hill has already announced his intention to retire and go into coaching at the end of the season and, even though a scrum-half, has even gone so far as to bring out a coaching book for threequarters.

Among a number of others, Hill was rested from last Saturday's First Division win over London Irish, but Ian Sanders did well enough in his place to stay in the side. Chris Clark, who has spent the autumn playing either representatively or for Oxford University, finally makes his first-team debut instead of Darren Crompton at loose- head prop, with Andy Robinson returning for Gareth Adams at open-side flanker.

Stuart Barnes is selected at outside-half despite the impossibility of operating on one leg and if he drops out he will be in good company with Swift, Guscott, Adedayo, Reed, Redman, all of whom are taking a midwinter break in Lanzarote with Bath's fitness coach, Ged Roddy, beginning today.

Wasps, meanwhile, have returned their youth product, Chris Wilkins, at open side ahead of Buster White and Lawrence Dallaglio, but are without three experienced backs: Buzza, Clough and Oti. In Fran Clough's case, it might be just as well to avoid a visit to the ground where he was contentiously sent off last season.

The Welsh Rugby Union is trying to resurrect an Anglo-Welsh club competition after its English counterpart, the Rugby Football Union, tried to bury it on Monday.

Representatives of four English clubs - Bath, Harlequins, Leicester and Wasps - and four Welsh - Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath and Swansea - met in Tewkesbury recently to promote some form of cross-border tournament and, though their freelance activity had no official sanction, a definite momentum was building behind the general principle. Indeed, the WRU now claims it was John Jeavons-Fellows, the RFU competitions chairman, who set the ball rolling. 'The sensible thing is to talk it through, and we will be seeking a meeting with the RFU,' Vernon Pugh, the WRU chairman, said yesterday.

The Welsh want a competition of midweek knock-out matches to be completed before Christmas next season - along with an extension, announced yesterday, of the strictly parochial Heineken League from four to five divisions of 12.

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