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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 09:09 GMT
Aussies slap Wales with 60,000 bill

Born-again Welshman: Jones-Hughes' father is Welsh
Australia have demanded payment from the Welsh Rugby Union for the training and development of centre Jason Jones-Hughes.

Six Nations Championship
The two countries were involved in a protracted row over the player last year, when Jones-Hughes switched his allegiance from Australia to Wales just before the World Cup.

The matter was eventually settled in favour of Wales, but the Australians were deeply unhappy about the perceived poaching of a player that had graduated from the Australian Institute of Sport and toured with the national side to Argentina.

It is the latest twist in an escalating row over Wales' selection of foreign players, following questions over the Welsh ancestry of New Zealand-born pair Shane Howarth and Brett Sinkinson.

The behaviour being exhibited by the Welsh on this issue is far from acceptable and shows a complete lack of etiquette

John O'Neill
The Australian Rugby Union said it is prepared to take the case to the International Rugby Board if Wales refuse to pay up for "knocking off" Jones-Hughes.

ARU general manager John O'Neill told The Australian newspaper: "We did the calculations, wrote to the Welsh about it last November, and we've still heard nothing official.

"The assessment of 150,000 [Australian dollars] is on the low side, we've been conservative, and it is a claim for both NSW [New South Wales] and Australian rugby unions.

"We'll be asking the IRB to look at it when they meet in Dublin next week because it's gone on far too long.

Born-again Welshman: Jones-Hughes' father is Welsh
"The guidelines are spelt out very clearly and Jones-Hughes followed almost every step of the path that leads to Wallaby selection.

"But the behaviour being exhibited by the Welsh on this issue is far from acceptable and shows a complete lack of etiquette.

"They knocked off one of our players, they did it perversely, and now they don't want to pay.

"In the absence of an official response, we'll ask what's happening. If they still don't want to pay we'll ask the IRB to arbitrate."

Australia, backed by New Zealand, have already entered the argument over Wales' alleged fielding of ineligible players by saying that they will table an amendment at the next IRB meeting that calls for the "grandparent rule" to be dropped.

Brett Sinkinson
Sinkinson's eligibility sparked the scandal
Under Australian proposals, players would only be eligible to play for a given country if their a parent was born there, and not, as the current rules allow, a grandparent.

They are also expected to ask that players are required to prove their lineage before being allowed to represent another country.

"It's becoming a farce," said O'Neill.

"I think all current players having to prove they are eligible is very appropriate to eradicate any confusion.

"We also believe there should be a central registry set up by the IRB to make sure none of this happens again."

However, Jones-Hughes lineage is not in doubt - he has a Welsh father - although the ARU has previously tried to argue that the centre was ineligible for Wales because he had already represented the Australian Barbarians, the de facto national second team. Their case was rejected by the IRB.

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See also:

20 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Henry 'determined' to finish task
14 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Aussie call for nationality crackdown
06 Sep 99 | Rugby Union
Jones-Hughes cleared to play for Wales
17 Sep 99 | Wales
Aussies slam rugby adverts
13 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Howarth axed in foreigner purge
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Young: Now lay off our coach
15 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Scots to defend 'grandparent rule'
Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.