SCOTTISH rugby's districts and Irish provinces have been discussing

the feasibility of a combined competition as a means of heightening the

appeal of both countries' representative rugby and sharpening players

for the greater demands of the international championship. It is

proposed that the competition would be played in September, before the

start of each country's club championship.

Duncan Paterson, Scotland's team manager, acknowledged that he was in

favour of the competition. The idea was first mooted by the Scottish

Rugby Union, he said, and though he emphasised that details still had to

be ironed out the proposal has found support across the water. Tom

Darcy, president of the Leinster branch of the Irish Rugby Football

Union, said that his executive committee had given the plan ''100%

backing'' earlier this week.

It is unlikely that every Scottish district and Irish province could

participate. The plan is that four teams from each country would play

against a like number across the water. One Scottish district thus would

be excluded, as would an Irish province.

Scottish districts and their Irish counterparts have had regular

fixtures against each other over the past dozen years, with three games

on the calendar this first week of the season. The South beat Leinster

26-14 on Tuesday night, and the Irishmen go on to play against Glasgow

at Hughenden tomorrow, the same day that North and Midlands are in

Galway to meet Connacht.

It is, though, a programme too limited to be of much benefit to capped

players and candidates in preparation for the international

championship. A regular competition between the Scots and Irish would

help to fill that gap, and the need for such a series was pinpointed by

more than one Scottish player after the Test defeats in Australia three

months ago. Those Scots spoke enviously of the Super Six series

contested by New South Wales, Queensland, Fiji, and three New Zealand


Even that Southern Hemisphere competition is not standing still. Next

year it will expand to take in four South African teams.

* A KNEE injury has forced Graham Agnew to drop out of both the

Glasgow team to play against Leinster at Hughenden tomorrow and the SRU

President's squad for the Kelso sevens on Sunday. The tall, forceful

Glasgow High/Kelvinside wing was injured in national sevens practice

earlier this week.

His Old Anniesland colleague, Gerry Hawkes, returns to the district

team. No stand-in has yet been named for him at Kelso.

Gary Armstrong has given way there to his former Jed-Forest

understudy, Grant Farquharson, now with Gala. The international scrum

half is continuing his policy of limiting his rugby commitments on his

comeback after last season's knee injury.

North and Midlands have four changes in personnel for their Galway

match against Connacht tomorrow. John Mitchell, the Kirkcaldy wing, has

been called in for his debut, as has Douglas Timms, Dunfermline's

Scotland under-21 hooker, whereas Brian Edwards and John Manson return

at centre and prop.

Edwards has been recalled as Rowen Shepherd has had to switch to

stand-off in place of Jon Newton. Martin Scott, Edinburgh Academicals'

international hooker, also has dropped out, as have Murray Cross and Ian

Michie. Newton, Cross, and Michie are injured.