S Africa send Twickenham records tumbling

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The newly professional England players need be in no doubt about the Rugby Football Union's capacity to pay their wages after yesterday's disclosure that next month's South Africa match at the redeveloped Twickenham will break records for attendance and receipts, writes Steve Bale.

The all-seated 74,000 who will attend the match, which is sold out, is 2,000 more than used to be the capacity when most spectators stood, and 14,000 more than last season's maximum while work proceeded on the West Stand. Gross takings from the match will be pounds 2.1m, pounds 500,000 more than for last season's Grand Slam decider against Scotland. Even the pre-Christmas Western Samoa match will bring in pounds 1.7m and is itself almost sold out already.

The Five Nations matches against Wales and Ireland in the new year are also guaranteed to fill Twickenham, and when the University Match, Pilkington Cup final, London v Samoa, Middlesex Sevens and Army v Navy are added, the RFU's take over six months will be a staggering pounds 11m.

There was a time when national A teams, or B teams as they were then known, were confined to uncapped players, but Wales yesterday moved almost as far from that concept as possible when 12 internationals were among those picked to play the Fijians when they begin their tour at Bridgend on 21 October.

The London Irish lock Kevin Gallagher has had surgery to stop internal bleeding 11 days after a punch gave him a broken nose and cheekbone and a ruptured vein in the Courage Second Division match against Waterloo. "This is the worst incident I have heard about in the whole of my career," Clive Woodward, the Exiles coach, said. "Whoever did this should never play rugby again."

An investigation by Waterloo got nowhere because no one would own up. Keith Alderson, the club secretary, said: "It appears there was a fracas, but there is no way anything can be substantiated. Our coaching staff have spoken to all our players and they have all denied any involvement."

WALES A (v Fiji, Bridgend, 21 Oct): J Thomas (Llanelli); A Harris (Swansea), G Jones, G Thomas (Bridgend), W Proctor (Llanelli); A Davies (Cardiff), P John (Pontypridd, capt); A Lewis (Cardiff), R McBryde, S John (Llanelli), G Prosser (Pontypridd), A Moore (Swansea), A Gibbs (Newbridge), S Williams (Neath), O Lloyd (Llanelli). Replacements: M Taylor (Swansea), M McCarthy (Llanelli), R Howley (Bridgend), L Mustoe (Cardiff), A Lamerton (Llanelli), C Wyatt (Neath).

Comments