World opens up for Bemand

England are taking three scrum-halves to Australia and not one of them is a household name, even in a rugby household. There's Nick Walshe, Peter Richards and then there's beam- me-up Scotty. Spectators had a rare chance to see Scott Bemand in action last Tuesday night when he played for Leicester against England Under-21s, a match in aid of the Matt Hampson Trust.

Andy Robinson's party of 30 - captained by Pat Sanderson who last year led England A, now re-branded the Saxons, to success in the Churchill Cup - include a dozen from outside the élite squad but few expected the Tigers' understudy to Harry Ellis to make the two-Test trip. "I thought I had an outside chance and I'd heard a couple of rumours," Bemand said. "Matt Dawson has retired, Shaun Perry's injured and Harry's not going so it's nice to get a tour and it's a great opportunity."

Bemand did not get the news in a phone call from Robinson. His wife Lucy spotted it on Teletext while Bemand was recovering from a stag do the night before. "It wasn't too rowdy," he said, which is surprising considering that (a) it was held at Welford Road and (b) it was a mass rite of passage with a whole colony of Tigers - Louis Deacon, Lewis Moody, Jamie Hamilton, Will Johnson and Leon Lloyd - heading for the altar.

Bemand may have benefited from the fact that England are not spoilt for choice for world- class No 9s, but what makes this end of season bonus all the more remarkable is that he has started only four matches for Leicester.

In pre-season training last summer (the Tigers' notorious sessions come with a health warning) he smashed an ankle in a pile-up. He had just about recovered by Christmas when he was invalided out of another training session.

"Graham Rowntree caught me in one of his chewing-gum tackles and my ankle went again." Chewing gum? "You know, one of those wraparound tackles. There's no escape. To tell you the truth, by this time I had written the season off."

Bemand comes from a rugby-loving farming family in Herefordshire. "We played for the Luctonians in the Midland division and we all supported Leicester. As a kid one of my heroes was Dean Richards and I used to see him because he visited our farm for pheasant shoots. I got my first taste of professional rugby at Moseley and had four years there until it went tits up. The backers pulled out and the administrators came in."

Bemand moved to Harlequins in 2001 and worked with the former England scrum-half Richard Hill. After three years at The Stoop Bemand left on a high, Quins winning the European Challenge Cup. "Fortunately, Leicester came in with an offer. If you can be competitive there you're in good shape. It's ironic that I was at Quins before Dean Richards arrived and at Leicester after he'd left."

Richards, who has had a season at Quins overseeing their return to the Premiership, is in the frame for the new England post of director of élite rugby, along with Sir Clive Woodward, Rob Andrew, Nick Mallett and Warren Gatland. They have been invited to submit their CVs but the Rugby Football Union are in no hurry to finalise the appointment. At least their deadline for naming a supremo who will have overall control of the new structure is not as pressing as recruiting Robinson's coaching team for Australia, bearing in mind they leave Heathrow at the beginning of June.

Interviews were held last week and, as expected, Brian Ashton will be in charge of attack, John Wells the forwards and Mike Ford defence. Referring to the RFU review that led to a radical overhaul at Twickenham, Robinson said: "It's been a difficult month. I hate where England are now in terms of results but it was right to have the review and I think we'll be the better for it."

For the time being Robinson, whose forte was the forwards when he was Sir Clive's assistant, is happy for Wells to take charge of the pack. "My position now is stronger not weaker than before," Robinson maintained. "In the end one person will have the final say on selection and that person will be me." Or the new élite director.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing