IRB dithers over issue of eligibility

The International Rugby Board, the sport's governing body, may have been taken aback by the eligibility scandal surrounding Welsh and Scottish Test players, but they are in no obvious rush to get to grips with the issue.

The IRB yesterday announced that a three-man judicial panel led by Jannie Lubbe, a South African lawyer, and featuring two former British Lions in John Spencer and Ronnie Dawson would meet within 14 days to consider the implications raised by the Brett Sinkinson, Shane Howarth and Dave Hilton affairs. They will report back to the board within 28 days.

Having spent much of this week discussing the subject at their annual meeting in Dublin, the board have agreed only that the grandparental qualification should be retained. The Australians had initially proposed that non-nationals be restricted to parental qualification, but agreed to withdraw the demand following talks at executive level.

Sinkinson, Howarth and Hilton, plus sundry members of the Wales A squad, were recently stood down by their respective unions when it emerged that they were unable to produce documentary proof of their grandparental links. The 12 major Test-playing unions are now being asked for formal documentation covering all full international and second-string players in an attempt to come up with a uniform policy on the matter.

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