Scottish hooker replaced by Bulloch

 

The Scotland hooker Robert Russell has been forced to pull out of Saturday's Six Nations clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium. And, in a surprise move, Gordon Bulloch has been named as his replacement by coach Ian McGeechan.

McGeechan declared last week championship to ensure he was fully fit for the summer tour of New Zealand.

However, Bulloch is the man to whom McGeechan has turned after the unlucky Russell was forced to pull out of the squad for the second successive Test.

The Saracens player sustained a hamstring injury three days before the French game, which saw Steve Brotherstone drafted in for his first senior start. And, although Russell was thought to be fully fit, he has now suffered a recurrence of the problem and has again been forced onto the sidelines.

CARDEY CLEARED: Matt Cardey was last night given the green light to make his Wales debut in Saturday's clash against Scotland. The Welsh RU secretary Dennis Gethin presented a copy of the birth certificate of Cardey's Gwentborn grandmother to International Rugby Board chief executive Stephen Baines at a meeting in Cardiff.

Baines confirmed Cardey's eligibility, and said: "I am happy that a full investigation is under way and have been promised that the results will be delivered to us within seven days. We will then consider its implications and act accordingly."

Meanwhile officials are probing the Welsh connections of Neath flanker Brett Sinkinson and Newport full back Shane Howarth, who've won 33 caps between them.

Both New Zealand-born players claim to have a Welsh-born grandparent, but they have been asked to prove it and will not be considered for further Test match honours until suitable documentary evidence is provided.

RULE CHANGES: Australian chiefs are to lobby for changes in the sport's player eligibility rules at Test match level. The Australian RU want to push through a so-called `Jones-Hughes' amendment when the International Rugby Board meets in Dublin next week.

Sydney-born Jones-Hughes made his Wales debut during the 1999 World Cup. He qualified through his Colwyn Bay-born father, despite having toured Argentina with Australia in 1997 and also represented the Australian Barbarians. Significantly though, he did not make a Test match appearance.

The IRB initially blocked Jones-Hughes' Welsh ambitions, but that decision was overturned on appeal.

The ARU initiative, if successful, would result in players who tour with a national team automatically becoming ineligible to play for another country. They are also looking to end what the ARU term rugby's "grandfather provision," which allows players to be eligible for a country where one of their grandparents was born.

If the ARU move is passed, it would allow a player only to represent the country of his father's birth, not grandparent.