Rugby Union: England uncover fresh Snow

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The Independent Online
THE idea of someone called Snow wearing the white, albeit with a newly added red stripe, of England has a certain charm. Alex Snow, a 21-year-old lock with no competitive English club experience, was yesterday included in the squad for the Wembley Test against Canada on 17 October.

As the team manager, Geoff Cooke, was at pains to emphasise, this would not mean automatic promotion for Snow if either Wade Dooley or Martin Bayfield dropped out. But even so, Snow can be safely forecast as an England player of the future. 'We are quite interested in his development,' was Cooke's low-key assessment.

Snow's elevation while still a Harlequin second choice does nothing to dispel the notion that arriving at The Stoop - which he did in the summer - does no harm to a player's England prospects, though his 6ft 7in and 17st 3lb are also useful recommendations.

But the suddenness of his emergence is explained rather by the fact that he had been playing in the Scottish First Division for Heriot's FP while a student at St Andrew's University. Last season Snow, ex- Harrow School, turned down the offer of a Scotland B place and went on to represent England in the Student World Cup.

'I had played for Scotland Students a couple of times but wearing the Scottish thistle just didn't seem right to me,' he said. 'The truth is that, though my mother is half- Scottish, I am English.'

Otherwise the squad is largely a predictable mixture of old and new. Ian Hunter's knee operation and Neil Back's sprung shoulder meant they were not included, the latter's misfortune entailing a deserved recall for the Bath captain, Andy Robinson. Jason Leonard is included even though there is no chance of his being fit - which will mean a first cap for Martin Hynes at loose-head prop unless Victor Ubogu reverts from tight head.

John Hall, making a comeback for Bath after a year out of rugby, was not considered on the grounds that he needed more time - not a stricture that applied to Mike Teague, who has been restored after one game for his new club, Moseley, after an absence that goes back to last year's World Cup final.

The Rugby Football Union yesterday announced that the Wembley game would be sponsored by the Canadian brewers Molson, which said its investment was 'a six-figure sum'. As Save & Prosper is paying pounds 150,000 for the England-South Africa match that follows on 14 November, tickets for which are 10 times oversubscribed, the six figures can be presumed to be pounds 100,000.

England are playing Canada at Wembley - the first rugby union international under the twin towers, where the capacity is 78,000 - so that work on Twickenham's new East Stand should not be interrupted. Tickets for Wembley are on a first-come-first- served basis.

The Twickenham works are about a fortnight ahead of schedule, and if this progress is maintained the lower tier's 10,500 seats will be ready for the Springbok match, taking the capacity to 52,000. So far the RFU has sold more than 3,000 of the 11,000 East Stand debentures it has on offer, raising pounds 7.5m.

ENGLAND SQUAD: Full-backs: D Pears (Harlequins), J Webb (Bath). Wings: S Hackney (Leicester), N Heslop (Orrell), C Oti (Wasps), T Underwood (Leicester). Centres: J Buckton (Saracens), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), P de Glanville, J Guscott (Bath). Outside-halves: R Andrew (Toulouse), S Barnes (Bath). Scrum-halves: R Hill (Bath), D Morris (Orrell).

Props: M Hynes (Orrell), J Leonard, A Mullins (Harlequins), J Probyn (Wasps), V Ubogu (Bath). Hookers: B Moore (Harlequins), J Olver (Northampton). Locks: M Bayfield (Northampton), W Dooley (Preston Grasshoppers), A Snow (Harlequins). Flankers: A Robinson (Bath), T Rodber (Northampton), D Ryan (Wasps), M Teague (Moseley), P Winterbottom (Harlequins). No 8s: B Clarke (Bath), D Richards (Leicester).

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