Mallett in the clear after appeal

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The Independent Online

John Mallett, the Bath and England prop, was last night freed to face Munster in the Heineken Cup after a disciplinary panel in Bristol upheld an appeal lodged by the player against his third yellow card in 12 months.

John Mallett, the Bath and England prop, was last night freed to face Munster in the Heineken Cup after a disciplinary panel in Bristol upheld an appeal lodged by the player against his third yellow card in 12 months.

Mallett had been consigned to the sin-bin in Bath's Zurich Premiership defeat at North-ampton last month and if he had lost the appeal he would have been banned for the crucial European tie on Saturday.

There was more good news for the 30-year-old Mallett when the panel decided to disregard the yellow card he received against Castres a fortnight ago. It is understood that the Rugby Football Union, in line with the other unions, is likely to adopt this as policy throughout this year's European campaign.

First there were the Kilted Kiwis, now it is the turn of the 'Spurious Sporran'. Budge Pountney, who was born in Southampton and plays his rugby in Northampton, has been appointed captain of Scotland for the three autumn Tests against the United States, Australia and Samoa.

Pountney, 26, has played 16 times for Scotland purely on the grounds that one of his grandmothers was born in the Channel Islands, thus, apparently through some arcane qualification regulation, allowing him to choose any one of the four home countries.

At least the Scotland coach, Ian McGeechan, has slightly more sound reasons to make the appointment. "Budge is a natural leader. He is committed. He is respected by the players. Towards the end of last season he took responsibility for leading forwards. We felt it was important to draw on that experience. And being a loose forward it allows him to organise the pack, and he is in an ideal position to link up with the backs."

Pountney was preferred to two former captains, scrum-half Bryan Redpath and centre John Leslie, who is one of the aforementioned Kilted Kiwis. McGeechan did confirm that, had he been fit, the scrum-half Andy Nicol would have got the job.

There was a further surprise with the inclusion of another former Northampton man, the Middlesbrough-born Jonathan Steel, in the 28-man squad. The 20-year-old, who is now with Glasgow Caledonians, has played just eight senior games.

Cardiff are hoping that tournament organisers ERC will review their options and allow the Welsh club to register the prop Peter Rogers for the Heineken Cup. Yesterday the Cardiff chairman, Peter Thomas, said: "We are still having discussions with ERC. We have not given up hope. We would not have signed the player from Newport if we had known beforehand that we could not register him for the tournament."

ERC is expected to discuss the case today. If ERC upholds its original decision to bar Rogers from playing in the tournament it is believed that Cardiff have been given a date when their case against ERC for a restraint of trade could be heard in a Dublin court.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (v United States, Murrayfield, 4 November): Backs: G Beveridge (Glasgow Caledonians), A Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers), C Joiner (Edinburgh Reivers), J Leslie (Newcastle Falcons), G Metcalfe (Glasgow Caledonians), C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers), C Paterson (Edinburgh Reivers), B Redpath (Sale Sharks), G Shiel (Edinburgh Reivers), J Steel (Glasgow Caledonian), G Townsend (Castres). Forwards: R Beattie (Newcastle Falcons), S Brotherstone (Northampton), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), S Grimes (Newcastle Falcons), G Graham (Newcastle Falcons), A Jacobsen (Edinburgh Reivers), R Metcalfe (Edinburgh Reivers), S Murray (Saracens), G McIlwham (Glasgow Caledonians), J Petrie (Glasgow Caledonians), B Pountney (Northampton, capt), S Scott (Edinburgh Reivers), G Simpson (Glasgow Caledonians), T Smith (Brive), S Taylor (Edinburgh Reivers), J White (Glasgow Caledonians).

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