Ruck and Maul: Family ties, family tries as identical twins line up for Baa-Baas

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The Independent Online

The Barbarians have picked their first set of twins, and identical ones at that, to face the Combined Services in the annual Remembrance Match at Aldershot on Wednesday evening. Rob and James Lewis – a scrum-half from London Welsh and a centre with Coventry respectively – have played together before with Wales Sevens and Ebbw Vale, and were opponents last Friday when their clubs met in the Championship. There is fun to be had with these chromosomal coincidences. In the 1950s, cricket's Alec and Eric Bedser were playing in an exhibition match at The Oval when Alec bowled the first three balls of an over to the great Frank Woolley medium-fast, and Eric sent the remaining three down as spinners. Woolley was clearly none the wiser, remarking to the wicketkeeper: "Wow, that young man's got a wonderful change of pace, hasn't he?" On the other (if identical) hand, Manchester United recently got into bother with their Brazilian twins Fabio and Rafael and a case of mistaken identity over a booking at Barnsley. The Lewis boys have been there, done that, as dad Steve, a former scrum-half and chief executive of the WRU, told Ruck and Maul: "They had an area final at school when Rob put in a high tackle but James was the one sent to the sin-bin. And it's happened more than once in Gwent age-group matches that Rob would be captain and the referee would turn to James to ask whether he wanted the kick or choice of ends." A proud spectator at Aldershot will be the twins' grandfather Ernie, 85, who was a touch judge at the Barbarians' famous 1973 meeting with New Zealand. Another family member will be there in spirit, the remembrance spirit – sister Abbie is an Army lieutenant who has just returned safely to Germany after a three-month tour in Afghanistan.

Girl power pulls in punters

England are hoping for a world-record attendance for a women's international when they host New Zealand at Twickenham on 21 November, half an hour after the end of the men's fixture. Truth be told, no one is quite sure of the existing record, but it is reckoned to be the estimated 10,000 who watched England defeat Italy in 2007. So it is down to how many of the anticipated 82,000 crowd for the All Blacks will stay put to see the female Black Ferns – plus entry is free to those who turn up for the women alone.

Doc bangs heads together

Speakers at the inaugural IRB Medical Conference at Twickenham on Thursday and Friday will include James Robson, who concluded his most recent tour as doctor to the British & Irish Lions with dire warnings that players were getting too big for their own good. Expect Robson, who will lecture the conference on concussion, to bang a few heads together on that and other subjects.

Touch on the pricey side

Life after rugby dominates issue one of the Rugby Players' Association magazine, 'The Players Room'. Members are implored to keep up their studies or try a new trade, but it would seem times are not too tough. A watch made by a company with the same name as a non-contact form of rugby is advertised as "a winner" at a mere £1,116.50.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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