Ruck and Maul: Seeds of doubt over whether Saints or Tigers are top dogs for Euro draw

Either Saracens or Gloucester will be lumped in with a fellow English club in next season's Heineken Cup when the draw is made at Twickenham on 7 June.

But there is mystery over whether this season's finalists Northampton Saints or the two-time winners Leicester Tigers have earned the higher ranking to join the new champions Leinster plus Toulouse, Munster, Cardiff Blues and Biarritz as the six top seeds who will each lead a pool of four teams.

The rankings table shown on the European Rugby Cup website a few days ago had Northampton above Leicester, though equal on 18 ranking points, but the table has been withdrawn while the organisers rule on which of two criteria take precedence: the Saints' better performance in the season just gone or Leicester's participation in the Heineken Cup for all of the four years that qualify for the rankings.

Johnson's family tries

Tom Johnson was not among the nominees when Leicester's Thomas Waldrom was named RPA players' player of the year in midweek, but the 28-year-old Exeter Chiefs flanker has been rewarded for a fine first season in the Premiership with selection for England against the Barbarians today.

He is likely to carry on to next month's Churchill Cup, which is poignant as his grandfather – the late Frank Johnson – served in the RAF during World War Two and became an Air Vice Marshal.

"Johnnie" Johnson played hockey and squash at RAF Command level but excelled at cricket. In the Indian Army he was the only European to play for the state of Sind in Indian inter-state competitions. Tom's father, Richard, became an air commodore.

Sinbad set for World voyage?

Another England starter today, James Simpson-Daniel, first appeared in this fixture nine years ago, famously running in a try by giving Jonah Lomu a necessarily wide berth.

The Gloucester wing, who turns 29 tomorrow, retains hopes of playing in a first World Cup in the autumn, seeing himself among "three or four" players – Dave Strettle and Ugo Monye would be two of them – behind Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton who are "far ahead" in the pecking order. Covering both wings and outside centre might help.

Injuries and illness have helped limit the Test career of "Sinbad" to 10 caps and, of course, he is not the biggest of men.

"I hear Willie Mason is involved for the Barbarians," Simpson-Daniel said of the 6ft 5in former Australia rugby league cap who will make his union debut off the bench today before joining (who else?) Toulon. "I was shit scared I could die when I first played against Jonah. Hopefully Mason won't be playing in my position."

Action Jackson wets whistle

Glen Jackson made it through his first match refereeing in Super Rugby with no red cards and one referral to the television match official when the former Saracens fly-half handled the Hurricanes and the Force on Friday.

His ambition is to be in the middle for a Rugby World Cup match in 2015 in England – where he first took up the whistle four years ago handling schools fixtures in Hertfordshire. "I've definitely got to get out of the player mentality," he told us back then. "Like when you see someone get punched and think 'well, you probably deserved that'."

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn