Rugby Union: Newcastle in conflict with national demands

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The Independent Online
The Scotland team manager, Arthur Hastie, is seeking urgent talks with the Rugby Football Union and Newcastle after the English club warned yesterday they may not release six players for international duty next week.

Newcastle want the Scottish quartet Doddie Weir, Gary Armstrong, Peter Walton and George Graham, plus Ireland's Nick Popplewell and Ross Nesdale, for a Second Division match against Rotherham on Saturday.

After initially agreeing to a postponement, Rotherham are refusing to switch the game, which clashes with Scotland's Test against Australia, Scotland A's international with South Africa A and an Irish squad session.

"As far as I am aware, the International Board ruling says national teams have first call on players," Hastie said. "England brought out a ruling that three England players had to be involved before a club could get dispensation to reschedule a league match. The regulations do not mention anything about Scottish players."

Rob Andrew, the Newcastle director of rugby, is reluctant to withdraw his players from international squads, but because of a rule change the club are powerless to insist on a postponement.

"We have asked the RFU and Epruc to try to find a workable solution, and that must be done quickly," the club said in a statement.