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Rugby Union: Axe for Townsend.

BRITISH LIONS stand-off Gregor Townsend has been sensationally dropped by Scotland.

The selectors have opted for what they see as the safer skills of Duncan Hodge for tomorrow's clash with South Africa at Murrayfield.

Townsend, one of Scotland's few world-class players in recent years, is one of five men to pay the price for last Saturday's 24-8 defeat against the New Zealand Maoris.

The Brive player is demoted to the bench, allowing Hodge a first Test cap at stand-off. He made his debut at full-back against Australia a year ago.

Test debuts go to centres John Leslie and Jamie Mayer and Northampton back-row forward Budge Pountney.

New Zealand-born Leslie slots in at inside-centre. Three weeks ago he arrived in Scotland from Otago Highlanders and made himself available, thanks to a grandfather born in Linlithgow.

Leslie's brother Martin could join him in making his Test bow from the bench at some stage. Meanwhile the selectors have opted for the strength of Peter Walton (Newcastle) on the blind side in place of Rob Wainwright.

Alan Tait is recalled on the wing, the position in which he played for the Lions in South Africa. This time he is on the right, replacing Tony Stanger.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Taggart, Rob
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 20, 1998
Words:201
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