Scots look to 'adopted' Pountney

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The Independent Online

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.

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 and thus apparently, through some arcane qualification regulation, he could choose to play for any one of the four home countries.

At least the Scotland coach, Ian McGeechan, has sounder reasons to make the appointment. He listed the back row player's qualities yesterday, while defending his decision. "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," McGeechan said.

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

There was a further surprise with the inclusion of another former Northampton man, Middlesbrough-born Jonathan Steel, in a 28-man squad for the Test against the United States on 4 November. The 20-year-old, now with Glasgow Caledonians, has played just eight senior games. But McGeechan insisted: "He is in the squad on merit. He is no slouch and gives us different options on the wing."

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. The Cardiff chairman, Peter Thomas, said yesterday: "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.

The former All Black coach Laurie Mains has stepped down from a similar role with the South African side, the Golden Lions. "The reason is the management style of Ellis Park and their constant interference and undermining of the team," he said.

In a separate announcement Louis Luyt, the controversial former South African Rugby Football Union president, said he was severing his ties with the same union at the end of the year. The pair had been in opposing camps in a lengthy power struggle at the Lions for the control of player affairs.

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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