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Sports Correspondent Paul Newman
"It has emerged Hilton has no Scottish ancestry"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 15:15 GMT
Hilton faces uncertain future
David Hilton
David Hilton's international future looks bleak
The Scottish Rugby Union has left the door open for prop David Hilton to return to the national squad, though the move is likely to be in vain.

Hilton discovered he was ineligible to play for Scotland when it emerged his grandfather, whom he had thought was born in Edinburgh, was actually born in Bristol.

Null and void

This meant the 41-times capped forward had no Scottish ancestry, rendering his international career over unless the International Rugby Board looks favourably upon his situation.

But that seems improbable in the light of comments by IRB Chief Executive Stephen Baines who has warned that both Scotland and Wales could have past victories declared null and void for fielding ineligible players.


Hilton
Hilton trains with Glasgow Caley
The SRU named the squad for the Calcutta Cup match with England on Thursday, with Hilton's name conspicuous by its absence.

However, officials said they were hopeful the IRB would regard Hilton's case as an exception, given that his international career began when the game was still part-time, and regulations were a good deal less formal.

A place in the squad was left empty in the hope that a ruling in their favour would mean the player could join the squad following an IRB decision, but no action will be taken by the IRB before it meets in Dublin next week.

Black-and-white

Former international captains Gavin Hastings and Will Carling gave their side of events as they met at Twickenham ahead of next week's clash at Murrayfield.

Hastings, Scotland's record international points scorer, said there was no argument as far as he was concerned.

He said: "To my mind, if a person fails to meet the eligibility rules, then he cannot play for Scotland. It's in black-and-white."


Will Carling
Will Carling: Mystified
Carling agreed, adding that some blame ought to be attached to the authorities.

He said: "I'm slightly mystified people can claim something and they don't have to prove it. People just take their word for it."

The Glasgow Caledonian player's immediate family signed an affidavit confirming that they all understood David's grandfather had been born in Edinburgh.

The affidavit had been submitted to the International Rugby Board.

That is unlikely to sway the decision in the SRU's favour as the IRB seeks to remove any ambiguity from its rulebook.

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See also:

23 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Celts face player punishment
22 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Eligibility row hits Scotland
15 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Scots to defend 'grandparent rule'
14 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Aussie call for nationality crackdown
21 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Sinkinson: I'm not eligible for Wales
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