Rugby Union: Quinnell waits on Scarlets' cup plea

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The Independent Online
SCOTT QUINNELL will today discover whether he can play for Llanelli in Saturday's European Cup quarter-final against Perpignan. Llanelli, undermined by injury problems, have applied to the European Rugby Cup board to play the Wales No 8. They also want to field recent signings Jason Barrel, Salesi Finau and Byron Hayward.

The request has already been discussed by individual board members although a decision will be made when they meet in Dublin today.

ERC set a date of 12 September for the final registration of players for this season, but provided special dispensation for Welsh clubs in the European Cup and Shield.

Because the Welsh Rugby Union had put a ceiling of 28 on the number of players any one club could register, ERC said it would allow those participating clubs from Wales to register new players after that date. However, opposition has come from France, and Llanelli are far from confident that their application will be granted.

"We have sent a detailed medical report to the board stating why we need these four boys to be cleared. Now we just have to wait to see what happens," Stuart Gallacher, chief executive of Llanelli and a member of the ERC board, said.

If cleared to play, the four will fly out with the rest of the squad tomorrow morning. If not, the Scarlets will travel to Perpignan with the bare minimum of 22 players.

Pontypridd, too, have made an application to clear the American hooker Tom Billups after their second hooker, Marcus Thomas, suffered an arm injury.

Munster will be without both their first-choice wings when they face Colomiers at Stade Selery in their European Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

John Kelly and Anthony Horgan are still recovering from injury. John O'Neill takes over on the right wing for Kelly, while Mick Lynch, normally a centre, is switched to take Horgan's place on the left. The team will again be captained by Mick Galwey.

West Hartlepool have been forced into a radical financial shake-up in a desperate bid for survival. The club are to axe their second team, make two administrative redundancies and put seven players on pay-as-you-play contracts in an attempt to save pounds 400,000.

The North-eastern club have lost all 11 of their Allied Dunbar Premiership One games to date this season, and lower-than-expected crowds have left the club with a huge cash shortfall.

Edinburgh Reivers will have "home" advantage for their Tennent's Velvet Tri-Series decider against Glasgow Caledonians on 3 January after the match was switched to Gala's Netherdale ground yesterday with a 2pm kick- off.

The Borders venue was preferred ahead of Stirling's Bridgehaugh after officials decided against using Murrayfield, as originally planned.

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