Phil de Glanville, the Bath captain, exemplified the hardening attitudes of players as rugby union goes professional with some scathing comments after dropping the England prop Victor Ubogu for tomorrow's crucial First Division match at Wasps.
De Glanville was withering about the tight-head's form and contribution. "It is down to individuals within the squad to ensure that they are as fit as possible," he said, "and while Victor played fairly well against Orrell last Saturday, this is something that has been building for a while."
To add injury to insult, Ubogu, who has won 20 caps since his debut against Canada in 1992, is being replaced by Dave Hilton, who has never played tight-head prop for Bath's first XV. But, as a measure of the strength of Bath's squad, Hilton, who has not played for his club since last February, is himself a Scotland international.
De Glanville explained: "Everyone in this side has to contribute - for a prop that means scrummaging and line-out work - and the contribution has to be over the full 80 minutes. I know Victor is working hard with our fitness coach Ged Roddy and he is now doing an extra session each week, but Dave is in because we feel he will contribute more during the whole game."
A delighted Hilton said yesterday: "I've not seen Victor play this season but I like to think I am a stronger scrummager and the selectors obviously feel it is worth a gamble. It does get frustrating playing in the United [Second XV] side week after week. I've got something to prove. I've got to take the chance."
Ubogu's downfall may owe something to Bath's latest use of technology in the pursuit of perfection. The club has been employing three cameramen for League games; one to record the match and two to concentrate on one player each for the duration of the game. It seems certain that Ubogu's performances have been scrutinised closely and the result is the chop.
Ubogu's other captain, England's Will Carling, will miss Harlequins' match against Saracens at the The Stoop. He is suffering from an ankle injury, which forced him to miss England's training session at Marlow earlier this week.
The Bristol forwards Garath Archer and Martin Corry, who left Newcastle- Gosforth last season, had talks this week with Newcastle's new director of rugby development, Rob Andrew, Bristol's coaching co-ordinator Brian Hanlon confirmed yesterday.Reuse content