Win a pocket guide to Scottish rugby

Scottish Rugby 101 is an easy-to-digest compendium of facts, stats, stories and trivia. It’s been compiled by Peter Burns, who made his first trip to Murrayfield as a nine-year-old in February 1990 and saw Scotland thrash France 21-0 during a Grand Slam season.

“It was a terrible time to fall in love with Scottish rugby,” says the former Edinburgh Accies prop, “because I thought that was how it would always be.”

Below are just a few of the interesting items Burns brings to light in his book, and at the bottom you have the opportunity to win your own copy.

Unstoppable Gregor
It’s well known that when Scotland won the last-ever Five Nations in 1999, fly-half Gregor Townsend achieved the rare feat of scoring a try in each of the four matches.

What fewer people realise is that Scotland played a friendly in one of the championship’s fallow weeks against Italy, one year before the Azzurri joined to make it the Six Nations.

And in that 30-12 Scottish victory, Townsend again crossed for a try, completing a unique personal Grand Slam.

He is one of five men to have done the try-scoring Slam in a Five Nations, with France’s Philippe Bernat-Salles (2001) the only player to have accomplished it in a Six Nations.

Gregor Townsend, 1999

Full set: a jubilant Gregor Townsend after scoring against France in 1999 (AFP/Getty)

Close but no cigar
Stuart Hogg won Player of the Six Nations in 2016 and 2017 after some mind-blowing performances. Since the creation of the award in 2004, the Glasgow full-back is the only Scottish winner.

Mike Blair, meanwhile, became the first Scot to be nominated for IRB (now World Rugby) World Player of the Year, in 2008, but he was beaten to the title by Shane Williams.

Greig Laidlaw became the second and, so far, last Scot nominated when he was listed in 2015. He lost out in the final reckoning to Dan Carter.

Blair is not only Scotland’s most-capped scrum-half (with 85 Tests) but holds the record for the most appearances as a substitute (20).

Mike Blair v Argentina 2008

Dart charge: Mike Blair threatens the Pumas in 2008, the year he was shortlisted for the top gong (AFP)

Twins apart
It’s an extraordinary fact that twin brothers Jim and Finlay Calder won Grand Slams for their country and toured with the Lions to establish their legend as two of Scotland’s greatest back-row forwards – but they never played together for either team.

Jim was the pace-setter, breaking into the Scotland team in 1981 and touring with the 1983 Lions before sealing the 1984 Grand Slam with a try against France.

He played his final Test in 1985 and was replaced in the team by Finlay, who won the first of his 37 caps in 1986 before captaining the Lions to a series victory over Australia in 1989, winning a Grand Slam of his own in 1990 and then retiring after the 1991 World Cup.

“I think I blossomed as a player earlier than Fin because I had it in my mind from a young age that that was what I wanted to do,” explains Jim. “Fin was just a different character. That drive to succeed in rugby didn’t kick in until a wee bit later for him.”

Finlay Calder and Ian McGeechan, 1989

Winning ticket: captain Finlay Calder and coach Ian McGeechan on the 1989 Lions to Australia (Inpho)

Scoring feat
Craig Chalmers became the first Scotland player to complete the ‘full house’ of scoring in every possible way in a single match. He achieved it against Wales in the 1991 Five Nations, scoring a try, conversion, penalty and drop-goal in a 32-12 victory.

Craig Chalmers v Wales 1991

Full house: Craig Chalmers during the win against Wales in which he achieved his Scottish first (Getty)

Scottish XV that never was
There have been a number of great players who qualified for Scotland but chose to play for other countries. A XV of those unselected players could consist of the following:

15 Mike Gilbert (NZ 1935-36), born on the Isle of Bute
14 Matt Banahan (England 2009-11), eligible for all four home unions because of his birth in the Channel Islands
13 Mathew Tait (England 2005-10), grandfather from Glasgow
12 Terry Lineen (NZ 1957-60), father from Orkney
11 Jason Robinson (England 2001-07), mother from Kirkintilloch
10 Pat Lambie (SA 2010-16), grandparents from Troon
9 Dave Loveridge (NZ 1978-85), grandparents from Ayrshire
1 Billy Bush (NZ 1974-79), grandfather from Stonehaven
2 Andy Dalton (NZ 1977-85), grandfather from the Borders
3 Keith Murdoch (NZ 1970-72), mother from Edinburgh, father from Springside, Ayrshire
4 Ali Williams (NZ 2002-12), grandmother from Galashiels
5 John Currie (England 1956-62), parents both Scottish
6 Wayne Shelford (NZ 1986-90), grandparents from the Highlands
7 Cliff Porter (NZ, 1925-30), born and raised in Edinburgh
8 Andy Leslie (NZ 1974-76), parents both Scottish.
Coach: Sir Clive Woodward, first school was Corstorphine Primary in Edinburgh, so qualifies on residency!)

Pat Lambie

One that got away: Springbok Pat Lambie could have represented Scotland because of his bloodline (Getty)

The weekenders
The 1880 Home Nations match between Scotland and Ireland in Glasgow was the first Test match to be played on a Saturday. All the previous games had been played on a Monday.

Scotland won by a goal, two drop-goals and two tries to nil.

Ireland v Scotland, 2015

Super Saturday: Scotland and Ireland broke with convention during the 1880 championship (Inpho)

At full-back for the home side was Bill Maclagan, who 11 years later became the first Scottish captain of the Lions when he led the tourists to South Africa.

After retiring, he served as president of the Scottish Rugby Union and died in 1926, aged 68. He was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Kiwi hoodoo
Most rugby fans know that Scotland are the only home nation not to have beaten New Zealand, their unfortunate log amounting to 29 defeats and two draws – both at Murrayfield – in 31 meetings.

The first of the draws, in 1964, is notable for finishing 0-0. The second, in 1983, was a heart-wrenching affair that gained little exposure because a TV technicians’ strike meant the game wasn’t shown in the UK.

Scotland trailed 25-21 entering the final moments, their points coming from five Peter Dods penalties and two drop-goals by John Rutherford.

In the final play of the game, Scotland were awarded a lineout. Bill Cuthbertson won the ball and Rutherford spun it out to centre David Johnston, who chipped a delicate kick over the onrushing defence for Jim Pollock to score in the corner.

Full-back Dods had a kick from the right-hand touchline to win the game, but he pushed it wide and both sides had to settle for a draw.

Scotland v New Zealand, 2017

Moment of hope: Scotland players celebrate Jonny Gray’s try against the All Blacks in 2017 (AFP/Getty)

Among the Scotland replacements that day was hooker Rob Cunningham, who sat on the bench behind Colin Deans for 51 consecutive Tests… and never got capped.

Scotland can claim a victory of sorts over New Zealand, however. In January 1946, shortly after the end of World War Two, they beat a New Zealand Army side that contained a number of All Blacks and several New Zealand rugby league players.

The Scots were one of only two teams to defeat that side during its 33-match tour, the other being Monmouthshire at Pontypool.

Scottish Rugby 101 is published by Polaris, RRP £7.99, and you can buy it here. They’ve kindly provided us with six copies to give away in a competition.

For a chance to win one, answer the question below, filling in your details. The competition closes on Monday 21 January.

Scotland v Argentina, 2018

Five-pointer: the only try of the Scotland v Argentina match in November – but who scored it? (Getty)

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Terms and conditions

The competition closes at 23.59pm on Monday 21 January 2019.

Six winners will be selected at random, each winning a copy of Scottish Rugby 101.

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