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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence