Scotland’s best uncapped team? Barry Stewart’s selection

'I'd be proud to take the field with this side, they have all the qualities I admire in rugby players'

Ronnie Kirkpatrick, whilst playing for the Border Reivers, tackles Matt Perry of Bath during the 1997-98 Heineken Cup campaign. Image: David Gibson/Fotosport
Ronnie Kirkpatrick, whilst playing for the Border Reivers, tackles Matt Perry of Bath during the 1997-98 Heineken Cup campaign. Image: David Gibson/Fotosport

I APPRECIATE that players of different vintages will have very different views on who should play. I have taken a simple approach (I wasn’t a very complex player!). Simply put, the criteria for selection was: ‘What if he was playing against you?’

Without doubt, I’d be proud to take the field with this side, they have all the qualities I admire in rugby players and all of the below played to a very high standard. For one reason or another (and often injury was the reason), they didn’t fulfil their rugby potential, which to my mind is a great shame, because all were exceptional players … and I hated playing against them!

1. Ross McNulty (Stewart’s-Melville, Boroughmuir, Edinburgh Reivers)

2. ‘Budgie’ Cairney (Dundee High)

3. Danny Herrington (Dundee High)

4. Stewart Hamilton (Stirling County)

5. Darren Burns (Boroughmuir)

6. Andy Ness (GHK/Glasgow Hawks)

7. Iain Sinclair (Watsonians)

8. Ronnie Kirkpatrick (Jed-Forest)


9. Cammy Little (GHK/Glasgow Hawks)

10. Mark McKenzie (Stirling County)


11. Simon Burns (Edinburgh Accies)

12. David Officer (Harlequins, Worcester Warriors, Currie)

13. Kenny Milligan (Stewart’s Melville)

14. Nick Penny (Stewart’s Melville/Watsonians)


15. Craig Redpath (Melrose)

In terms of rationale, I cant think of a more horrible front-row to ‘manage’ for 80 minutes. Danny was probably the best propping technician in an era when a lot really did go on in the front-row. Ross and Budgie had the basics nailed shut and were utterly uncompromising. Together this lot would provide a platform at scrum and line-out time that would keep us in the game.

Darren ‘Fly’ Burns and Stewart Hamilton (on field general) are polar opposites, but both superb second-rowers. Darren will give the line-out options with his versatility, speed and height, whilst Stewart will provide dependable ball at the front all day long. You might decide to pinch one ball from him … most weren’t daft enough to try again!

Nessy, Sinky and Ronnie are a proper handful. They have it all, speed, skill, strength and height (not Sinky). These guys would have a field day playing behind this front five. I firmly believe that all three should have been capped and it must be remembered that they were living in an era dominated by the JJs and Fin’s and a raft of foreign imports.

I have had some help with the backs … I never really understood, appreciated or admired their contribution to the game, but even this lot won’t have much to complain about given the amount of ball they’ll get.

Cammy was a great scrum-half and I think (as is always the case with 9s and 10s) we’d see the very best from him when he has a rock solid platform to operate from. Give him time and space and he’s a handful. Likewise, give Mark McKenzie space and time and he’ll punish you. However, both Cammy and Mark were good under pressure too, as many Scottish packs were from time to time, so their composure merits selection as much as their attacking flair.

In midfield, Offy and Spike were class players with plenty of skill and spirit. Spike had terrific speed, Offy didn’t, but you cant have it all I guess!

Both wingers have (had) the wheels and when in space Simon and Nick were very hard to stop. Who knew that one of them could say they had both the size and the speed of Jonah Lomu? Sadly just not at the same time!

Not much to say about the full-back selection other than that he should’ve been capped (all of them should’ve been capped!). A class act, playing at a time Scotland had a string of good 15s. Would’ve been great to see the Redpath brothers (Brush and Craig) play in the same national side.

Scotland’s best uncapped team? Matt Vallance has his say

About Barry Stewart 1 Article
Barry initially came to prominence in senior rugby playing for Edinburgh Academicals and earned four caps at tight-head prop for Scotland between 1996 and 2000. Three of those matches were against the All Blacks in New Zealand, with the other one being against Australia. He almost certainly would have worn the thistle many more times had it not been for a spinal injury whilst playing for Edinburgh during the 2000-01 season, which prompted the SRU to call time on his career. But he was still only 25 and not yet ready to throw in the towel on his playing career. On the advice of a neurosurgeon – who insisted the injury did not make him any more or less likely to suffer a serious accident on the field of play than any team-mate – he decided to continue playing south of the border and (initially paying his own insurance) enjoyed a further seven years as a professional prop in the Guinness Premiership and Europe with Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints. Barry is now an investment manager for Brewin Dolphin.


  1. I was lucky enough to play alongside some of those lads and was amazed at how a lad of Nick Penny’s size and strength was so bloody quick. A great player.

  2. Interesting selection Barry.

    Big question for me on this topic is – when if Faither Barnes going to reveal his selection; and will he include anyone from outside Hawick? Cannae wait.

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