Glasgow have scored a first in Scottish rugby by arranging to send 22 young players to experience a month of rugby in New Zealand later this year. No other Scottish district has previously sent an age-group squad outside the British Isles.

Glasgow's initiative is based on the concept of the Silver Thistles, the Scottish youngsters who were in New Zealand last year. As a natural follow-on, the district's group will be known as the Glasgow Thistles.

Five-figure sponsorship for the Glasgow group has already been secured, but the Glasgow and District Rugby Union will continue to seek further financial backing.

More than 40 players from the Glasgow Schools' team and the GDRU's Under-19 and Under-18 squads were initially asked about their availability for the trip. ''The response was 100%,'' David Jordan, the GDRU's chief executive said. ''The numbers, of course, had to be reduced.''

Arrangements for the Glasgow Thistles' visit to the Waikato province in July are being made by Kevin Greene, who returned to his native New Zealand when he retired as Glasgow's coach in November. While the Glasgow boys are in Waikato, they will be accompanied by two of the district's development officers, Greig Oliver, the former international scrum half who was with the Silver Thistles last year, and Stevie Gemmell.

Greene has arranged for the Glasgow Thistles to be allocated to five clubs in Hamilton, Waikato's main town. The Scottish boys will play for those club's Under-19 teams, though it is hoped that they can train with the senior squads as well.

Greene has planned only two matches for the Glasgow Thistles during their month in New Zealand. ''We believe they'll benefit more from training and playing with clubs,'' Gemmell explained.

The Glasgow Thistles will be accommodated for part of their stay in the Wings Events Centre, near Hamilton and a week or two with Waikato families.

The 22 Glasgow Thistles: Gillon Armstrong (Kilmarnock), Colin Bartwicki (East Kilbride), Stuart Bryce (Glasgow Southern), Stuart Caulfield (Dalziel), Scott Chassels (Glasgow Academy), Rory Couper (Ardrossan Academicals), Hugh Fulton (Glasgow Academy), Craig Hamilton (Wigtownshire), Rory Kerr (Strathendrick), Douglas Lyall (Hutchesons' GS), Richard Maxton (Stewart's Melville FP), Andrew McGeoch (Glasgow Academy), Ian McInroy (Garnock), Eric Milligan (Stewarton Academy and Kilmarnock), Iain Monaghan (Glasgow Southern), Craig Murdoch (Ayr), Euan Murray (Williamwood HS and Glasgow Southern), Chris Pothan (Kelvinside Academy), Colin Stewart (East Kilbride), Gordon Tyler (Ardrossan Academicals), Jan Vos (Glasgow Southern), Martin Yorston (Lenzie).

qCliff Brittle, chairman of the Rugby Football Union's management board, has escalated the feud between Twickenham and the top clubs by outlawing the proposed Anglo-French competition.

England's top teams have rejected the officially approved European Rugby Cup and want to set up a cross-channel event.

The RFU, in a joint statement with Bernard Lapasset, French Federation president, said: ''The RFU and the FFR have agreed that they will not support any Anglo-French competition which is outside the organisation of European Rugby Cup Ltd.''

qJonah Lomu has been given special dispensation by New Zealand from Super 12 commitments to play in the Hong Kong Sevens next month.

The giant wing is the only top All Blacks player to be freed with New Zealand chiefs concerned that their remaining internationals remain focused on Test-style rugby.

qWelsh referee Derek Bevan yesterday failed a fitness test on the ankle he injured last Saturday and has been forced to withdraw from taking charge of Saturday's Five Nations Championship match between France and England. David McHugh of Ireland will now control the match at the new Stade de France, Paris.

q Lothian put themselves within sight of the Bank of Scotland Schools Under-18 district title after defeating Glasgow 21-19 at New Anniesland yesterday.

Glasgow, however, may have done themselves no harm in terms of achieving places in the Scottish Schools side. Iain Monagahan at scrum half certainly staked a claim and there were impressive contributions from stand-off Steve Duffy who stood in for the injured Chris Pothan, replacement prop Euan Murray and flanker Douglas Lyle.

qGLASGOW Southern eased their relegation worries in the Premiership Division Three last night with a 22-16 victory at home to Glenrothes. After a game in which the lead changed hands regularly, the Glasgow side pulled away from second bottom Stewartry.

qBath forward Kevin Yates - accused of biting a rival's ear - will not discover his fate until next week. The Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel has now met for more than 17 hours over the past two days and will deliver a verdict after a meeting on Monday evening.

England prop Yates is accused of mutilating the ear of Simon Fenn, London Scottish's Australian flanker, by biting it during last month's Tetley's Bitter Cup tie.