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IRB chief executive Stephen Baines
"Within our regulations we can take whatever action we need to"
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Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 14:27 GMT
Celts face player punishment
Wales could be forced to forfeit their Wembley victory over England
Wales and Scotland could have past victories overturned by the International Rugby Board (IRB), for fielding ineligible players.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, the chief executive of the IRB, Stephen Baines, warned both the Welsh and Scottish Rugby Unions they could face retrospective punishment by having the results of matches altered.

Both countries were recently shaken by revelations that a number of high profile players were not eligible.

Within our regulations we can take whatever action we need to.

IRB chief executive Stephen Baines
Wales' Brett Sinkinson and Shane Howarth and Scotland's Dave Hilton were all thought to qualify through the so-called 'grandparent rule'.

Research into their family history has since shown that all three have no ancestral link to their respective countries

As a result, Sinkinson and Howarth, who share 33 caps between them and Hilton who has appeared 41 times for Scotland have all been dropped.

The WRU and SRU must now make representations to the IRB, who will decide what punishment is appropriate.

"Within our regulations we can take whatever action we need to," Baines said.

Dave Hilton is the latest player to become embroiled in the controversy
"From a warning, to a fine, to reversing the decision and scores of matches.

"I think this is an issue that will be looked into by our disciplinary committee next week."

The controversy erupted when it was discovered that Howarth and Sinkinson, who both hail from New Zealand, did not, as they had claimed, have grandparents born in Wales.

Hilton was thought to qualify on similar grounds, though it now appears his grandfather was born in Bristol, England, not Edinburgh.

"The Board has got significant power at its disposal in terms of the action it takes against unions," Baines said.

"The regulations have been in place for many years. The unions, are the ones who made the decision. All the unions know what the rules are.

So it's up to them to ensure they are properly policing their regulations."

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See also:

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Sinkinson: I'm not eligible for Wales
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