Scotland tour: Hastings lives the dream in rainy Edmonton

Fife called up as cover for injured Jones

Adam Hastings battles his way past two Canada's Shane O'Leary and Nick Blevins. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson.

By Stuart Bathgate

In Houston

IF Adam Hastings were being picky, he would have chosen a sunny day at Murrayfield to make his debut. Instead, he got a drizzly evening at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.

Not that it mattered too much. The 21-year-old acquitted himself well when coming off the bench in Scotland’s 48-10 win over Canada on Saturday night, and afterwards expressed his pleasure at having fulfilled a dream he has had for nearly as long as he can remember.

“It was extremely enjoyable,” said Hastings, whose first cap came 23 years after his father, Gavin, made his last appearance for Scotland.  “I had imagined it might have been at Murrayfield but it wasn’t to be. I don’t really care, to be honest, this has been a goal of mine since I was a wee lad. Of course it started fucking raining as soon as I got out there.

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“My dad told me to enjoy myself, savour the moment, because it only happens once. That was all he said and I’ve certainly done that.

“I’ve not played that much this season and wasn’t expecting to go on tour. Then Gregor felt I was ready to go on tour and it was the right option; I’m very grateful.  There is relief to get it out of the way and it was not a complete horror show.”

In fact, it was not a horror show in any respect, as Townsend himself made clear. The head coach had thought he might bring Hastings on at inside centre, with Ruaridh Jackson continuing at stand-off. That would have been a straightforward option when  when James Lang, the starting number 12, had to go off injured, but instead the coach fielded Hastings in his preferred position – a choice that made a lot of sense in any case when Jackson was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on.

“I thought he did really well,” Townsend said. “I had thought we would use him at 12, but I did want him to play at 10 too. He did well. It was a gutsy call to do a wide play when we were down to 14, but we did well off that.

“The yellow card gave us a bit of impetus. It usually has the opposite effect but we had a go at them there, and Adam was a big part of that. He made some good decisions in the opposition 22.”

The general principle of selection on this three-match tour is that there would be a preponderance of Edinburgh players in the squad for the first game, a more Glasgow-dominated selection against the United States this Saturday, and then the strongest possible line-up to take on Argentina. But some players will buck that trend, with Hastings being among them according to the coach.

“I think he will be [in line to start next week]. The plan was to look at Ruaridh in this game and Adam in the next one. Unless there are other injuries, that will be the plan.

“There will be a lot of changes. Less if people are injured, but the Glasgow players who didn’t play tonight can’t wait to get started. It is a good start that they are aiming to back up a solid win.”

It goes without saying that Hastings himself would love the chance to play again straight away. “As soon as that was over I just wanted to keep going,” he said. “I just want to keep playing. if Gregor wants me to play again I’ll grab it – happy days.

“Before my debut I had so many messages from so many people and my family has got right behind me. I didn’t realise it meant so much to people, but it was a really nice occasion – a moment I’ll cherish, for sure.”

Hastings’ mother, Diane, watched the Canada game on TV with Blair Kinghorn’s mother and is due to catch the USA game on the box as well, but Gavin is expected in Texas to see his son in person. Adam was not even born when his father won his last cap at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, but he revealed that he has seen footage of some of Gavin’s matches, joking that they were not the most entertaining of viewing.

“He sticks them on every Christmas – they’re rubbish, he just kicks it!  No, I have seen the main ones, the Grand Slam ones, but have not seen too much of him in club games at Watsonians.

“He was pretty handy, wasn’t he? He’ll be out next week. It will be nice to have him about.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh winger Dougie Fife is to join the tour as cover for his Glasgow counterpart Lee Jones, who was on crutches yesterday after injuring his knee during the match and looks likely to miss Saturday’s game against the United States. Hooker Fraser Brown is also doubtful after picking up a rib injury, while tour captain Stuart McInally, who has a thigh strain, still looks more likely to wait until the Argentina match before making his return.

About Stuart Bathgate 1438 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.