It is scarcely surprising. The Scarlets used to be consistently stronger in one-off cup ties than the long haul of league rugby, but no longer. This season they have amassed 176 points in their opening three First Division matches.
The Welsh Rugby Union gladly gave caps when the United States and even the Barbarians played Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, but will not do so when the Italians, who are probably worthier than either, are there on 7 October. The B game is at Pontypool a week later. Overshadowing both is the Wales v Australia match on 21 November. Yesterday's selection marks the emergence from long- term exclusion of the Llanelli flanker Lyn Jones, who was last in a Wales squad in 1986 when he was a Neath player. Jones is one of 19 uncapped players in the squad.
Meanwhile England, deprived by injury of Ian Hunter and David Pears, have augmented their squad for the game against Canada at Wembley on 17 October with two more full-backs: Nottingham's Simon Hodgkinson and Alan Buzza, of Wasps. Hodgkinson won the last of his 13 England caps in the Grand Slam game against France in 1991, at which time his 60 Five Nations points was a record for a season.
The Scottish Rugby Union president, Robin Charters, has promised an inquiry into allegations made by David Sole, the former Scotland captain, that 'shamateurism' exists in the Scottish game. In his autobiography, being serialised in Scotland, Sole says that a few players are paid for playing for their clubs. Inevitably, he would not reveal who they were, which means the inquiry will get nowhere. Sole, who retired after Scotland's summer tour to Australia, also points the finger at Welsh rugby, where he claims 'professionalism is rife'.
Most people would agree, but not the Welsh Rugby Union secretary, Denis Evans. 'This is just a broad generalisation from a player who to my knowledge has never played club rugby in Wales,' he said. 'Where is his proof?' Which sounds like the same old story: proof, as the Rugby Football Union has been fond of saying lately, is always impossible to find.Reuse content