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The BBC's Ian Robertson
"Hilton always believed his grandfather was born in Edinburgh"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 07:46 GMT
Eligibility row hits Scotland

David Hilton: Role in the World Cup and Six Nations
Scottish rugby has been shaken by the revelation that one of its most accomplished players, prop David Hilton, may not eligible to play for Scotland.

Six Nations Championship
Hilton, who has won 41 caps, qualified through the so-called "grandparent rule", but research into his ancestry has found that his grandfather was born in Bristol, England, not Edinburgh.

It is yet another embarrassment for home nations rugby as the row over imported stars that began in Wales boils over into Scotland.

Hilton factfile
1994: Scotland A debut vs SA
1995: Scotland debut vs Canada
1995: Scottish World Cup squad
1996: Two Tests on Scotland tour to NZ
1999: Played every game in Five Nations champ side
2000: Grandfather found to be English
But the Scottish Rugby Union has vigorously defended Hilton, saying that "under all the circumstances, we consider he continues to remain available for selection for Scotland".

The union argues that "stringent adherence" to the eligibility rules should have a cut-off point of August 1995, when the game became professional.

Hilton's first cap was in January 1995 against Canada, potentially placing him in the safety zone.

SRU chief executive Bill Watson said: "Dave Hilton is an honourable man and has served Scottish rugby with distinction.

Jon Stuart
Jon Stuart: Great-grandfathers don't count
"His immediate family have signed an affidavit confirming that they all understood David's grandfather said he was born in Edinburgh."

"David was a product of the Scottish Exiles system and first won selection for Scotland when eligibility was taken on trust and the game was amateur."

Watson said the affidavit had been submitted to the International Rugby Board.

The possibility remains that the Glasgow Caledonian, who was likely to be named in the squad to face England on 2 April, will be barred from playing.

I was absolutely devastated when my family completed their research to discover ... he was actually born in Bristol

David Hilton
"Both myself and my father had always believed that my grandfather Walter was born in Edinburgh," he said.

"I was absolutely devastated when my family completed their research to discover this was, in fact, not the case. He was actually born in Bristol.

"It was the first that any of us in the family knew of this."

Meanwhile, junior player Jon Stuart has been ruled ineligible after it was found that his great-grandfather and not his grandfather was from Glasgow.

The 24-year-old centre has already played for Scotland U21 and Scotland A, but will not now be available for a full cap until he passes the residency qualification in 2002.

Watson said: "Given that Jon Stuart's involvement has been wholly in the professional era, the SRU cannot continue to select him at this stage."

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See also:

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
Aussies slap Wales with 60,000 bill
21 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Sinkinson: I'm not eligible for Wales
13 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Howarth axed in foreigner purge
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Young: Now lay off our coach
Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.