Toby Booth, the director of rugby for London Irish, has appealed for a common-sense solution in the dispute between Wales and Scotland for the services of Steven Shingler. In particular, Booth wants to know where the player stands before he takes London Irish to Scotland for next Sunday's final pool game in the Heineken Cup.
A place in the last eight of Europe's premier competition is beyond the Irish after Saturday's pool-two loss at the Madejski Stadium but Shingler's situation remains open for debate. The fly half, 20, who joined the Irish from the Ospreys last summer, is wanted for Scotland's Six Nations squad but is ruled out because he played for Wales Under-20s while with Ospreys.
"We recruited a player we thought was qualified for England, Scotland and Wales," Booth said. "If that changes, there could be a few repercussions. But why are we trying to stop people reaching their full potential? If Wales don't want him to play for them, and Scotland do, and he wants to play international rugby, then common sense must prevail.
"The International Rugby Board will decide but we will support our player. We try to make our players the best they can be and the pinnacle for every player is to play international rugby. This is not about Steve choosing Wales over Scotland or vice versa, this is about him trying to be an international and that's all it's about, playing at the highest level he can. One country has shown an interest, the other hasn't."
Shingler played only eight minutes against Cardiff as a replacement for Shontayne Hape, with Booth admitting the eligibility debate had contributed towards his omission from the starting XV. "He's in contention to play [against Edinburgh] next weekend but we'll have to see," Booth, shorn of a third of his squad through injuries, said.
Meanwhile Cardiff, neck and neck with Edinburgh, at the top of the pool, know that a home win over Racing Metro will be enough to reach the last eight for only the third time in the last 11 years, though they seem sure to remain without the injured Wales centre, Jamie Roberts. Leigh Halfpenny's 17 points against the Irish included the conversion of Sam Warburton's try which owed everything to Casey Laulala's break, the only occasion when the Irish defence disappointed.
London Irish: Penalties Jarvis 4, Armitage.
Cardiff Blues: Try Warburton; Conversion Halfpenny; Penalties Halfpenny 5.
London Irish: D Armitage; T Ojo, J Spratt, S Hape (S Shingler, 72), A Thompstone (T Homer, 72); A Jarvis, D Allinson; C Dermody (captain; A Corbisiero, 58), D Paice (J Buckland, 36), F Rautenbach (P Ion, 50), N Kennedy (R Casey, 76), M Garvey, B Evans, D Sisi, A Gray.
Cardiff Blues: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, C Laulala, G Henson, C Czekaj (R Mustoe, 58); D Parks, L Williams (R Rees, 58); G Jenkins, T Thomas (R Tyrell, 63), T Filise (S Andrews, 50), B Davies, P Tito (captain; M Molitika, 72), M Paterson, S Warburton, X Rush.
Referee: N Paterson (Scotland)Reuse content