Row may spoil Twickers party

Twickenham will celebrate the unveiling of its new South Stand with an international match between world champions England and world number one team New Zealand on November 5.

However, England could be shorn of its best talent if the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) fails to come to agreement with Premier Rugby, the governing body of the Premiership whose teams
boast most of the top English players.

The RFU wants to stage four international matches in November, traditionally known as the autumn internationals in the northern hemisphere, but are currently embroiled in a club versus country dispute.

The RFU has three more dates for internationals with Argentina to visit on November 11 and then South Africa on November 18 and 25, but the November 5 date is not an international one and
England’s top players could be playing for their club sides that weekend.

The New Zealand game is due to be screened live on national terrestrial television channel BBC1 in England, making severe embarrassment possible for the RFU if it fails to put out a competitive team aginst the world’s best.

England head coach Andy Robinson told AFP: “As a player and a coach you want to take on the best and, at the moment, that’s New Zealand.”

However, if the RFU and Premier Rugby do not come to agreement, Robinson could be left disappointed. “I am looking forward to having the sufficient preparation time before playing a team of New Zealnd’s calibre,” he added.

Twickenham’s capacity has been expanded from 74,000 to 82,000 with the ground improvements and work is continuing on associated facilities including VIP hotel suites overlooking the pitch.