Rugby Union: Field comes in at centre for Ireland: Malone man's debut

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The Independent Online
MAURICE FIELD, the Malone centre, is a surprise choice to face England in the Five Nations match at Twickenham on 19 February. In the only change to the side beaten by Wales last Saturday Field replaces his Ulster colleague, Mark McCall, who won his third full cap against Wales.

Field, a Belfast fireman, will be 30 later this month and played in the A international against Wales last Friday. Until now, that was his highest representative honour. He made his senior debut for Ulster in 1990 and has been an automatic choice for the province ever since.

A vacancy has been left for a prop in the replacements panel. This may be filled by Garry Halpin, of London Irish, who dropped out of the squad against Wales with a hamstring injury.

There are five changes in the Ireland A team to play England A at Richmond on 18 February. Jim Staples, the London Irish full-back, is recalled and McCall takes Field's place in the centre. Paul Burke and Niall Hogan are replaced at half-back by David Humphreys and Alain Roland.

In the back row Paul Hogan comes in at blind-side flanker instead of Eddie Halvey, with a vacancy left at prop which will be filled at the weekend.

Welsh rugby's national league structure is to be widened to include nearly all the 212 member clubs of the WRU. From next season the Heineken League will be extended to include a fifth division, taking the total number of clubs in the top tier to 60.

Three more divisions with regional splits will be added, either next season or at the start of the 1995-96 campaign. Divisions six and seven will have 12 teams in each section, east, central and west, while division eight will have two area groups for each geographical split.

That means there will be 17 divisions of 12 teams throughout the whole structure by the time the whole league programme is up and running.

The Welsh Rugby Union has relented over its policy of players having to pay for their wives and partners to travel to away games. Rob Norster, the team manager, and the coaches, Alan Davies and Gareth Jenkins, last night met with the committee who agreed that the WRU should pay for wives to travel to Twickenham for the game against England on 19 March.

IRELAND (v England, Twickenham, 19 February): C O'Shea (Lansdowne); R Wallace (Garryowen), M Field (Malone), P Danaher (Garryowen), S Geoghegan (London Irish); E Elwood (Lansdowne), M Bradley (Cork Constitution, capt); N Popplewell (Greystone), T Kingston (Dolphin), P Clohessy (Young Munster), M Galway (Shannon), N Francis (Old Belvedere), B Robinson (Ballymena), D McBride (Malone), P Johns (Dungannon). Replacements: C Clarke (Terenure College), A McGowan (Blackrock College), R Saunders (London Irish), K O'Connell (Sunday's Well), A N Other, K Wood (Garryowen).

IRELAND A (v England A, Richmond, 18 February): J Staples (London Irish); T Howe (Dungannon), B Walsh (Cork Constitution), M McCall (Bangor), N Woods (Blackrock College); D Humphreys (Queen's University), A Roland (Blackrock College); P Soden (Cork Constitution), J McDonald (Malone, capt), A N Other, J Etheridge (Blackrock College), D Tweed (Ballymena), P Hogan (Garryowen), K McKee, R Wilson (both Instonians). Replacements: K Murphy (Cork Constitution), M Ridge (Blackrock College), N Hogan (Terenure College), V Costello (St Mary's College), B Mulcahy (Skerries), A N Other.

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