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The BBC's David Parry Jones
"The Welsh rugby hierarchy is highly embarrassed"
 real 28k

WRU secretary Dennis Gethin
"If he is found not to be eligible he will not be selected"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 March, 2000, 09:00 GMT
Wales to investigate foreign recruits

Was his grandfather born in Carmarthen or Oldham?
The Welsh Rugby Union has promised to review the qualification credentials of top players after doubts emerged over the eligibility of New Zealand-born flanker Brett Sinkinson.

The WRU has always adhered to the regulations regarding eligibility of players and has taken in good faith the evidence and word of those players who wished to make themselves available to Wales

Wales team manager David Pickering
Sinkinson is one of a crop of players who were born in the southern hemisphere but have been able to play for Wales by virtue of Welsh-born ancestors.

The flanker made his international debut for Wales last year, going on to play for Wales in the World Cup and this year's Six Nations championship.

"Following stories in the media this weekend, questioning the eligibility of certain Welsh players, the WRU has decided to examine once again the credentials of all players who wish to play for Wales," Wales team manager David Pickering told a news conference.

Aussie Jones-Hughes: Qualification battle
"The WRU has always adhered to the International Rugby Board regulations regarding eligibility of players for international teams, and has taken in good faith the evidence and word of those players who wished to make themselves available to Wales."

According to IRB rules, a player is eligible to play for a country if a parent or grandparent was born there.

Sinkinson qualifed by virtue of his grandfather, who grew up in Carmarthen.

However, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper has published a copy of his birth certificate which states that his birthplace was in fact Oldham.

But the issue has raised doubts about Wales' other southern hemisphere players.

New Zealand-born Full-back Shane Howarth, who has played in all 19 of Wales' Tests under their New Zealand coach, Graham Henry, put forward a Cardiff-born grandfather as his Welsh qualification.

Kiwi Howarth: Cardiff born grandmother
Australian, Jones-Hughes' father is from Colwyn Bay, while uncapped Wales squad member Matt Cardey has a Gwent-born grandmother.

"The WRU has always played by the rules, and is determined to continue to do so," Pickering said.

"In the recent cases of Brett Sinkinson, Shane Howarth, Jason Jones-Hughes and Matt Cardey, the players followed the accepted practice of all nations by writing to the governing body to register their claims for selection.

"Once it was established they had a qualification, their names were put forward to the national team management for consideration.

"No questions have ever been raised by any of our opponents regarding the eligibility of a player selected to play for Wales.

'Nothing to hide'

"Neither did the IRB ask for any explanation of the backgrounds of Brett, Shane or Jason prior to granting permission for them to play in the rugby World Cup last year."

The WRU have asked Sinkinson to put his side of the case and will make a report to the IRB in the next few days.

Howarth said he found current developments "annoying" and added: "I could understand people asking me before, but it is 19 Tests down the line now.

"If I had to play with these guys, I had to be pretty sure that everything was right.

"I have nothing to hide. My mother's father is from Cardiff, and that is the qualification I have - I've already shown that to people."

Sinkinson was not at Sunday's Wales training session in Cardiff due to an injury picked up with his club Neath which ironically rules him out of next Saturday's Six Nations clash against Scotland anyway.

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Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.