Scots back league convert : RUGBY UNION

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The Independent Online
Tony Howard, formerly a centre for Salford, will become the first ex-professional rugby league player instated into rugby union in Britain if the International Board accepts the recommendation of the Scots at its annual meeting in March, writes St eve Bale.

Howard, 26, last played for Salford in September 1993 and, under IB amateur regulations as they have been since April 1993, because he has never previously been involved in rugby union he will become eligible to play after two years have elapsed.

The Scottish Rugby Union are supporting Howard, a Mancunian policeman who married a Scot, now lives in Falkirk and wishes to play for Grangemouth of the McEwan's League Second Division.

"This is a clear sign of the two codes coming together," the trail-blazer said, cheekily adding: "Let's face it, everyone knows top players get paid in union anyway."

Bill Hogg, the SRU secretary, said: "If a player can give appropriate undertakings that he has never been in rugby union and played only rugby league, he can then come in after a period of two years. The SRU view is that, if this player has never, ever played rugby union, then rules state that he cannot be disbarred."