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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 15:12 GMT

Sport: Rugby Union

Aussies given Jones-Hughes ultimatum

Jason Jones-Hughes: The ARU is seeking compensation

Australian rugby bosses have been told to release Welsh international Jason Jones-Hughes from his contractual obligations so that Newport can play him in the European Shield.

The centre, who made his debut for Wales in the World Cup, remains bound to the Australian Rugby Union and New South Wales despite being cleared to play in the land of his father's birth by the International Rugby Board.

Wales coach Graham Henry said: "The Australian Rugby Union and New South Wales Union are currently not responding to any correspondence from us.

Compensation issue

"We've given them an ultimatum asking them to respond or we will play him. A copy of that ultimatum has also gone to the IRB.

"In my opinion they are just being bloody-minded. Jason's registration has been done, it is all under control, it is just a matter of Australia releasing him."

He said that compensation had still to be negotiated between the Australian and Welsh Unions.

"There is no problem with that, it is just the amount that has to be sorted out," said Henry.

Eligibility dispute

Jones-Hughes was only cleared to play for Wales at the eleventh hour after a long legal wrangle between Wales and Australia over his eligibility.

He was originally barred from playing for the Welsh in the World Cup after the IRB accepted Australia's position that he had already played for the Australian Barbarians - the Wallabies' de facto second team.

IRB rules state that a player who has already represented a side at international level cannot then represent a second country.

But the WRU successfully appealed and fielded the player during their World Cup group matches.

Newport have almost certainly beaten rivals Cardiff to sign Jones-Hughes and will commence their European Shield campaign at Bedford on Saturday.

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