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Rugby Union: IT'S SCOTGATE; Hilton's in eligibility row now..

THE Scottish RFU are all set to join Wales in the dock at the International Rugby Board's annual general meeting next week after it was discovered 41-cap Dave Hilton was a "phoney".

The Bristol-born prop, a replacement in last weekend's Six Nations international in Cardiff, first played for Scotland in January 1995 after claiming he had an Edinburgh-born grandfather.

But after checks were made on the credentials of the late Walter Hilton it emerged yesterday he also hailed from Bristol.

It means the Scots have been caught out in the eligibility row in the same way as Wales were over Shane Howarth and Brett Sinkinson.

The Scots were also left red-faced after they included another Glasgow Caledonian player, Jon Stuart, in an A international against Ireland when he had no qualification to play.

The SRU hotly denied they or Hilton had knowingly broken the rules.

And they pledged to fully support his impending battle with the IRB to keep on playing for them.

Doubts over Hilton's "Scottishness" emerged before the weekend defeat by Wales when SRU administrative secretary Gregor Nicholson admitted he had no documentary evidence of the player's pedigree.

Hilton immediately vowed to track down the birth certificate of his grandad.

He declared last night: "Both myself and my father had always believed that my grandfather Walter was born in Edinburgh.

"I was absolutely devastated when my family completed their research to discover that was, in fact, not the case.

"He was actually born in Bristol and it was the first that any of us in the family knew of this.

"I regard myself as Scottish and I am immensely proud to have won 41 caps for Scotland."

After discovering the news, Hilton immediately informed Scotland team manager Dougie Morgan and SRU staff at Murrayfield.

SRU chief executive Bill Watson stated: "We have advised the IRB of the situation. David Hilton is an honourable man and has served Scottish rugby with distinction.

"His immediate family have signed an affadavit confirming that all understood David's grandfather was born in Edinburgh. That affadavit is also being submitted to the IRB.

"David was a product of the Scottish Exiles system and first won selection for Scotland when eligibility was taken on trust and the game was amateur.

"His commitment to Scotland is beyond reproach. We are informing the IRB that, under all the circumstances, we consider he continues to remain available for selection for Scotland."

The case of 24-year-old Stuart is even more embarrassing because of his comparatively recent involvement with Scotland.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 23, 2000
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