Shingler selection has Welsh and Scots in a twist
What do you make of the Steven Shingler case? Are you glad this is happening now and we shall have a precedent?
The IRB say the fly-half is ineligible to play for Scotland and that he is tied to Wales, having played for their Under 20s - the stepping stone to the senior side.
Shingler, alarmingly, is on tape and on the BBC Sport website expressing his desire to play for Wales, although he has had an apparent change of heart since that interview.
I am so glad we are about to get a ruling on this. I just don't see it as right that you play age group rugby for one country and then change allegiance unless you live in your new country unless... Well, read on.
Freshly-selected England squad member Lee Dickson is a case in point as he played for Scottish age group teams but was always dual qualified; plays for Northampton and lives in England.
England and Scotland both have 'A' teams as well, so playing for our Under 20 team isn't as near the "top table".
The next step? Scotland and Wales can now enter into a formal process, or, as the IRB put it: "The SRU and WRU may wish the IRB Regulations Committee to consider this matter formally in accordance with IRB Regulation Two. The Unions are aware of the requirements of such a review."
Should Shingler be able to switch allegiance to Scotland? (pic: Getty Images)
I never liked this case from the moment it started. The whole element of dual-qualification is a painful one.
The Welsh are saying Shingler has panicked as he wasn't going to get an immediate game due to their strength in depth.
Scotland, so the argument proposed in Wales goes, was his second option but much more gratifying in the short term.
We Scots claimed him as one of ours and if ever a magician produced a bigger rabbit out of a hat, well, it was never caught on camera.
He, Shingler, has now said how much he wants to play for us and the SRU want to support him in that.
The search for talent from other countries is often unseemly and I don't agree with scouring the world for players as it makes a mockery of our production system. If it is to happen, then I'd rather we left it to others.
I never agreed with the thought that putting fifteen chimps in Scottish jerseys was fine as long as they were winning.
Let the Kiwis and Aussies offer scholarships to Samoan, Tongan and Fijiian kids and we can keep our hands off a Welsh production line.
The trouble is, of course, that nothing in the world is sharp in focus and according to the primary principle of qualification - parentage - Steven Shingler qualifies to play for Scotland, and, er Wales too.
On that point we can't argue. There is no problem here. Morally and legally the player can choose.
Where the murkiness comes is that my country, Scotland, will either have approached him or have been approached by him and at no time alerted the Welsh as to what we were up to while in full knowledge that Shingler had played for Wales Under 20s.
Perhaps it was just a straight decision with a quick look at the family bloodline but I rather suspect someone at Murrayfield must have known it would cause a problem.
The world is changing. Pacific island families make their way across Australasia and settle to new lives, which is why we see multi-racial Australian and New Zealand teams, and quite right too.
Manu Tuilagi qualifies for England through residency, Tim Visser will qualify for Scotland by the same route, but both Scotland (David Hilton) and Wales (Shane Howarth) have already fielded players who weren't eligible to play in any shape or form.
I can see both sides of the Shingler case, but I agree with the IRB on this one. He primarily qualifies for Wales.
So what would be a fair outcome? When Wales and Scotland meet with the IRB, the logical decision should be that Scotland have to formally apply for the release of Shingler, with the player's full backing, and then, if the Welsh agree, he becomes Scottish-qualified.
I actually think that the Welsh would agree to that request.
And that rule should apply worldwide for every further case like this. That's the step that has to be taken.
What do you think?