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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK


UK: Wales

Aussies slam rugby adverts

Jason Jones-Hughes may be stopped from playing by an injunction

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill has accused the Welsh of being "crass" for advertising in Australia for more players.

A half-page advertisement in the Australian Rugby Review's special World Cup edition calls for players in Australia to check their family trees for Welsh ancestors.

The advert includes a colour photograph of Wales's New Zealand-born coach Graham Henry with a Welsh flag draped across his shoulders and listed the telephone and fax numbers of the Welsh Rugby Union.


[ image: Graham Henry has been criticised in Australia]
Graham Henry has been criticised in Australia
"They are absolute shockers. How bloody crass can you get?" O'Neill told The Australian newspaper.

"Is this what international rugby is all about these days?

"It's a pattern of behaviour, this luring players from other countries, that seems to be going on across the UK and Ireland."

Australia and Wales have been embroiled in a row over the availability of Jones-Hughes after the promising centre, who was born and raised in Australia but has a Welsh father, announced he wanted to play for Wales at this year's World Cup.

'Hypocrisy'

The International Rugby Board has given the former Australian Schoolboy, Under 21s and senior representative permission to join the Welsh despite protests from the ARU.

O'Neill said he had received scathing letters from around the world over the ARU's stance on the issue.

Accusations of hypocrisy had been levelled against them because the Australian World Cup squad includes former South African captain Tiaan Strauss and ex-Argentine prop Patricio Noriega.

However O'Neill said the cases were different because they had completed three-year residency qualifications and had made themselves eligible for Australia "by the book", while Jones-Hughes was still under contract to the ARU.

O'Neill said the IRB executive's finding in favour of Wales left him "flabbergasted" and was "clearly flawed".

Injunction

The ARU has asked the IRB for a quick judicial committee hearing into the Jason Jones-Hughes affair and an injunction may be sought to prevent him from playing for Wales in the World Cup.

The ARU has sent a dossier to the IRB seeking a reversal of the decision allowing Jones-Hughes to play for Wales.

"This is not a vindictive move, it's not about bad sportsmanship, it's a move designed to protect our investment in Jason Jones-Hughes for the good of Australian rugby," O'Neill said.

"We want it sorted out, and it needs to be sorted out because if the Welsh went ahead and played him without a resolution to all this, they would do so at their own peril.

"We are writing to the IRB and we want the full council to meet to hear the case, and it has to be within the next fortnight with the tournament starting on October 1."

"We are not giving up, we are not going away because with a bit of succession planning, Jason Jones-Hughes could be playing for the Wallabies within the next 18 months.

"If he plays for Wales now, that will not be possible."



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