SRU officials have dismissed reports linking the banning of a Scottish rugby player with allegations of cover-ups of failed drug tests elsewhere in the British Isles.

Claiming that the matters had been hushed up, a report in an English-based newspaper had said that two unnamed international players had tested positive for anabolic steroids last season, and added that, in a separate incident, ''an unnamed Scottish player'' had refused to give a urine sample when requested to do so by an independent officer.

In fact the player in question is understood to have been Steven Clapperton, a 23-year-old Peebles player, whose case was publicised at the time of his offence. He was banned for eight weeks after having failed to give a urine sample at the Kelso Sevens tournament early last season. Club officials claimed at the time that there had been no sinister intent and that Clapperton's failure was down to a mix-up.

Not having found the dope testers where he expected them to be after Peebles exit from the tournament, he had been hurried into returning home with those who had given him a lift, unaware of the seriousness of the potential consequences.

An SRU spokesman indicated last night that yesterday's newspaper report misrepresented the situation by suggesting that the player had refused to give a urine sample and faced a two-year ban unless cleared by a tribunal.

''The player, who was named at the time, was deemed by an SRU disciplinary panel to have ''failed'' to take a test rather than to have ''refused,'' said the spokesman.

''He was, nevertheless, banned for eight weeks and all of this was widely reported in the media at the time.''

It was also made clear that if two British internationalists have failed drug tests, they are not from Scotland.

''There have been no positive results from drug testing carried out during international matches staged at Murrayfield last season or, for that matter, any other season,'' the spokesman stated. ''In addition all tests carried out routinely on Scotland players at venues other than Murrayfield have been returned negative results.''

q CURRIE'S hopes of glory in the Tennent's Velvet Championship suffered a set-back

yesterday when top scorer Murray Craig was snapped up by Exeter.

The English second division outfit had been trying for four months to tempt the utility back to the West Country. Now they are

hoping he will make his debut on Saturday, linking up with former Boroughmuir and Edinburgh Accies stand-off Bryan Easson.

''Having been unable to secure a district contract, I am thrilled at the prospect of

playing down south again,'' said Craig. ''The quality of rugby in division two is high and I am looking forward to the challenge.''

Craig's two-year package - believed to be worth a total of #100,000, includes a house, car and a part-time PE teaching post at a local sports college.

After a shaky start to their campaign, Exeter have won three matches on the trot - thanks mainly to the kicking talents of Easson, who is the division's leading points scorer.

q Ebbw Vale forward Mark Jones has apologised for ''the stupid and violent act'' that left his Welsh squad colleague Ian Gough requiring eye surgery.

Jones has written to Pontypridd lock Gough and Welsh Rugby Union secretary Dennis Gethin following Saturday's incident during a Premier Division clash between the clubs. However, he still faces a WRU disciplinary hearing next week - and the possibility of legal action - as Gough's solicitors have become involved.

Jones, capped 15 times by Wales, punched Gough during Vale's 24-23 win and was sent off by referee Derek Bevan. His action looks certain now to mean both players missing next month's Wembley Test against world champions South Africa - Jones, through suspension, and Gough, while he recovers from extensive eye socket damage.

''I would sincerely like to apologise for a thoughtless, stupid, and violent act,'' says Jones, in his letter to Gough. ''I am very disappointed with myself and I feel very sorry for you, a young guy who I respect as a rugby player and I like as a person.

''I can understand you being very angry, but I can assure you it was not personal. I have a problem which I have to correct.''

Jones tells the WRU he is ''deeply sorry and disappointed'' and tried to apologise to Gough after the game. ''I realise now that I have a problem that I have to correct.''