Rugby Union: No compromise in sight as kick-off looms

IT WAS looking certain last night that there would be no immediate solution to the protracted wrangling between the top English clubs and the Rugby Football Union. Just 24 hours before the Welsh rebels Cardiff and Swansea are due to kick off against Bedford and West Hartlepool (strike action permitting) on a Saturday scheduled for a full Allied Dunbar Premiership programme, the RFU's management board is no nearer a compromise.

Twickenham officials do not want Anglo-Welsh games to be played on Premiership weekends and will not be supplying match officials or providing insurance. The clubs insist that, by law, they cannot be prevented from staging the so-called friendlies but have indicated their willingness to compromise over their fixture arrangements so that the cross-border matches could not be associated with the Allied Dunbar Premiership.

But after a lengthy meeting at Twickenham yesterday the management board decided to put the options open to the RFU to a full council meeting next Friday. The only certainty is that the clubs will have to find qualified match officials, either from Wales or among those not contracted with the RFU for the whole programme.

Of the matches that do go ahead there is almost as much attention centred on the bench for Bath's opening tussle against Wasps at the Recreation Ground tomorrow. That is where Kevin Yates will be found, six months after being found guilty of biting London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn's ear in a Tetley's Bitter Cup match last January. The loosehead position is taken by the Scottish international prop, Dave Hilton. Ben Sturnham, a summer signing from Saracens, makes his debut, while the England Under- 21 player Iain Balshaw comes in for the injured Matt Perry and South African scrum-half Steve Hatley gets in ahead of Andy Nicol.

Josh Lewsey, the England outside-half, finds himself in the less familiar role of full-back when he makes his Wasps debut against Bath. Gareth Rees, the Canadian international, wears the No10 shirt in the absence of the injured Alex King, while Lewsey's former Bristol colleague, Eben Rollitt, comes in to the back row for Lawrence Dallaglio who has still not recovered from a shoulder injury.

Alain Penaud and Jeremy Thomson step into the roles left vacant by Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella respectively when Saracens entertain Northampton at Watford on Sunday. Watford is the birthplace of Thomson's mother, a fact that makes him eligible for England. The Australian and former Harlequin Troy Coker comes into the back row for injured player-coach Francois Pienaar.

Andre Barnard, the South African centre, signed from Pontypridd on a two-year contract yesterday, is one of eight players who will be making their debut for Bristol against Exeter in tomorrow's Allied Dunbar Premiership Two game.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent