Rugby grandee John Spencer, in line to be the next RFU president, caused controversy at Twickenham by making a sexist remark about Princess Charlene of Monaco in his speech before England's match against South Africa.

Princess Charlene, the former Olympic swimmer for South Africa and wife of Monaco's ruling Prince Albert, was a guest of the RFU, sitting next to Prince Harry in the Royal Box.

The pair had lunch with president Peter Baines in his suite while vice-president Spencer was left to address around 260 people - including RFU councillors and partners, plus RFU guests - in the Spirit of Rugby function room.

Spencer, who is expected to be team manager on the Lions tour of New Zealand, said the glamorous Princess Charlene was in the building without Prince Albert.


So this, he blundered on, was an ideal opportunity for anyone in the room who 'fancied their chances' with her.

Such was the embarrassment that some councillors want four-times married Spencer to be censured at Friday's RFU council meeting, especially after he failed to apologise for his crass comment when he spoke again at a VIP lunch before England v Argentina on Saturday.

The gaffe certainly casts doubt over Spencer's suitability for the RFU presidency or a key role with the Lions.

And it needed Sports Agenda to raise the matter for an RFU spokeswoman to say: 'John did not mean to cause offence and he has apologised for any offence his comments caused.'