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Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 15:13 GMT
Scots to defend 'grandparent rule'

Scotland have a limited player base
Scotland's rugby bosses are planning to oppose an Australia's proposal that the so-called "grandparent rule" should be scrapped.

The suggestion was made after it was alleged that Wales flanker Brett Sinkinson and fullback Shane Howarth - both New Zealanders - did not have Welsh grandparents as they had claimed.

We have a pretty fragile playing base at the moment and we are very keen at this stage to retain the grandparental qualification

Graham Law, SRU spokesman
The International Rugby Board confirmed on Wednesday that Australia would put forward an amendment at the next board meeting on 25 March. New Zealand is known to back the proposal.

Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) spokesman Graham Law said: "We're not happy with the Australian proposal.

"We have a pretty fragile playing base at the moment and we are very keen at this stage to retain the grandparental qualification."

There are currently 11 players selected for Scotland's senior and A squads who qualify through a Scottish grandparent.

Brett Sinkinson
Brett Sinkinson: Sparked controversy
But in an unusual development, New Zealand is backing a lowering of the amount of time a player must be a resident in a given country to qualify for international honours.

The currrent limit stands at 36 months, but the New Zealanders want that dropped to 24 months.
Six Nations Championship
New Zealand have relatively few players who qualify through the grandparental route, but draws from a wellspring of talent in the neighbouring Pacific islands through the residency rule.

Australia and New Zealand also want the rules changed so that midweek reserve team games on international tours count as having represented your country at international level.

This amendment is also likely to meet resistance, because many such games take place against provincial or club opposition.

Mattie Stewart
Mattie Stewart: English born, Scottish relatives
Australia were recently involved in a protracted row with Wales over the eligibility of Jason Jones-Hughes to play for Wales, having already turned out for the Australian Barbarians - the Wallabies' de facto second team.

IRB rules state that a player cannot play for another country after receiving senior international honours elsewhere.

But Wales successfully argued that this rule was not enforced, and said that Jones-Hughes had a strong claim to play for his adoptive nation because his father was Welsh.

Some have christened the proposed changes the "Jones-Hughes amendment".

Of the Six Nations, only England and France would escape serious implications if these proposals were accepted.

But Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy all have a significant number of players who qualify through grandparents.

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