Scotland’s best uncapped team? Ian Barnes picks his side

A man who is never reticent when it comes to voicing his opinion reckons he has nailed the selection. Do you agree?

Harry Whittaker, seen here in action for Hawick versus Edinburgh Accies, was one of the first names on the team-sheet.
Harry Whittaker, seen here in action for Hawick versus Edinburgh Accies, was one of the first names on the team-sheet.

No messing around with scene-setting this one, it is straight into the team announcement –

15. George Fairbairn (Kelso): If George had not signed Rugby League for Wigan in 1974, Andy Irvine and Bruce Hay could both very well have ended up playing on the wing for Scotland – that was how good he was.

Turnberry Hotel

 

14. Wattie Scott (Hawick): A big, hard, raw-boned farmer, with pace and a ferocious hand-off. Unstoppable with ball in hand, or so it appeared to me as a kid sitting in the boys’ enclosure in front of the old wooden stand at Mansfield. Not so easy for Border players to win caps in the early 1950s and a dodgy knee did not help Wattie’s cause.

13. Julian Vaughan (Trinity Accies): Julian was really a stand-off but he was good enough to play anywhere. A contemporary of Andy Irvine and Jim Renwick, it was surely just a question of time before he followed them into the Scotland team – but he disappeared to the Caribbean after university – where he did get capped – for Jamaica.

12. Simon Scott (Stewart’s Melville): When the Whites ripped the Blues to shreds in the January 1986 International Trial, Matt Duncan, Gavin and Scott Hastings, David Sole, Jeremy Campbell-Lamerton and Finlay Calder all won their first caps against France on the back of it – but the man who made it all happen did not. A travesty. Simon was the great enabler who could have done for Scotland what John Dawes used to do for Wales had he got the chance.

11. Mick Linton (Selkirk): Philiphaugh’s ‘enfant terrible’ in the early 1970s – not the easiest of men to handle on or off the field – but he could play – and score tries – either by going round his man – or by going over the top of him, depending on what sort of mood he was in. A face that clearly did not fit – the odd game for the South was his lot.

 

10, Jimmy Blake (Royal High): Jimmy was a class act – but he played his rugby the same way as his lived his life – in the fast lane – and the SRU establishment of the day saw Gordon Waddell (perhaps rightly!) as a safer option – tactically and socially.

9. Harry Whitaker (Hawick): Shifting a piano has never been a problem down at Mansfield and Hawick have produced some great players – but only three genuine virtuosos in Wattie Sutherland, Jim Renwick and Harry Whitaker – and it was an absolute tragedy for Scottish rugby when Harry signed Rugby League for Workington in 1968 – just ask Gareth Edwards.

 

1. Brian Hislop (Langholm): Scotland were not short of loose-head props in Brian’s time with Jim Aitken following Ian MacLauchlan into the No1 shirt – but anybody who played against ‘Bomb’ would tell you that he was well worth a bonnet – and that he would probably have got one had his loyalty to Langholm not proscribed a move to a more fashionable club.

2. Patrick Haslett (Edinburgh Accies): It was nip and tuck between Patrick and Gordon Bulloch as they came through age-grade rugby together – with Patrick often getting the nod – but a serious neck injury put him out of the game – and Gordon went on to win 75 caps.

3. Peter Robertson (Hawick): Technically, Peter was a superb scrummager – and was mobile enough to feature prominently in Hawick’s 1966-67 ‘magnificent seven’ which won the ‘ten in a row’. He must have been very close to a cap after a rollicking display against the All Blacks for a Scottish Districts XV at The Greenyards in November 1967 – but a detached retina forced his retiral almost immediately thereafter – so he took to refereeing and was a better referee with one eye than most were with two – but somehow he never quite made it to international level.

4. Andy Lucking (Currie): Andy was the business. He arrived in Edinburgh from Sheffield to study medicine with no real rugby pedigree  but after a year playing with the University he was picked up by Graham Hogg at that now forsaken though still vibrant rugby hot-spot out in Balerno and made dramatic progress – Under 21s, ‘A’ team, Edinburgh, the 1999 Development tour to South Africa – then he did his back and was forced to retire, leaving us all to wonder what might have been.

5. Jimmy Simpson (Heriots):  I caught the tail end of Jimmy –who apart from maybe Alistair McHarg, was the most difficult opponent I ever faced on a rugby field – and I played against both Gordon Brown and Willie John McBride. Not big, but arms, legs, fists, elbows everywhere – a total nightmare – with only those who played against him truly appreciating how good he really was.

6. Kevin Rafferty (Heriots): They said Kevin was not big enough but as he proved time after time, it is not the size of the dog in the fight – it is the size of the fight in the dog. A player’s player, fast, brave, into everything and a great reader of the game. He did play in the two non-cap tests on the Scotland tour of Zimbabwe in 1988 – but that was scant reward for a player of his ability. Very unlucky to be competing for a place in the national team with John Jeffrey and Finlay Calder.

7. Wattie Davies (Hawick): Wattie was converted from an average centre to a firebrand flanker by Hawick Linden  and within a couple of seasons his phenomenal work rate and boundless energy had propelled him into the Scotland team to play Wales in 1973 – but he did his cruciate playing for Hawick the Saturday beforehand and never quite recovered, try as he might. Almost 50 years on and he is still held in awe by those who saw him play.

8. Derek Brown (Melrose): Fourteen years in the Melrose back-row, throughout the fifties and well into the sixties – 40 games for the South including matches against both South Africa and Australia – the Baa-Baas – innumerable sevens medals – an honest grafter who could certainly play a bit – but who strangely never got a cap – another manifestation of the prejudice that thwarted Wattie Scott.


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The bench:

16. Struan McCallum (Jordanhill): With Ian MacLauchlan and Ronnie Boyd, Struan made up the notorious Jordanhill front-row of the early to mid-70s – which was every bit as menacing as their fabled contemporaries from Pontypool. Struan was not big but he was tremendously strong, as hard as nails, technically perfect, and extremely unfortunate that, when he was in his prime, Sandy Carmichael had the tight head slot in the Scotland side firmly nailed down.

17. Rodney Balfour (Glasgow High): In the 1970s when hookers really had to hook – with their noses six inches from the deck – Rodney was top dog. Others may have offered more around the park – but if scrum ball was the priority then Rodney was your man. He served his time on the Scotland bench (as an injury replacement rather than a tactical substitute) but never managed to get onto the pitch – despite hours spent sticking needles into the knees of his Duncan Madsen voodoo doll.

18. Donnie McLeod (Hawick): Donnie was a beast of a man – a terrific ball carrier – who never took a backward step – though the red mist was sometimes a problem. After a couple of outstanding seasons with Hawick, he made the Scotland ‘B’ side in 1978 and was well on his way towards a cap when his knees went – badly – and that, unfortunately, was that.

19. Cyril Johnstone (Langholm): Cyril learned his rugby in a hard school – and it showed – which maybe coloured the then Murrayfield hierarchy’s opinion of him – but he had all the bits and pieces, and was the consummate competitor. He was the man to batten down the hatches in a heavy tide – a faculty which could have served Scotland well in the mid-70s – though in fairness, Dougie Morgan did make a pretty good fist of it.

20. Drew Broatch (Hawick): Drew was stand-off in Jack Hegarty’s great Hawick championship winning side of 1959-60 – a stand-out talent in a side which boasted eight internationalists. With Gordon Waddell in the Scotland team – and Jimmy Blake maybe ahead in the pecking order – Drew could easily have played in the centre – and did actually get a trial on the wing – but chose, instead, to jump ship and signed Rugby League for Leeds.

21. Ian Murchie (West of Scotland): Ian was the coming man when he played in the notoriously brutal non-cap Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1969 – and broke his collar bone after twenty minutes. Back home, his knees packed in on him and so ended yet another very promising career – in those days when knees were a mystery to the medical profession.

  • Tomorrow: PC Brown puts his tuppence in

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

About Ian Barnes 2 Articles
Barney earned his spurs in the adult game with Hawick Linden in the mid to late 1960s before breaking into the senior Hawick side at the start of the 1968-69 season. He played a decade for the Greens, picking up seven caps for Scotland along the way, before hanging up his boots in 1978 when his Achilles gave up on him. He then embarked on a 32-year coaching career which took in two stints at Hawick and Edinburgh Accies, plus spells with Heriot’s, Stewarts-Melville, Hawick Linden, Haddington, North Berwick and Trinity Accies, as well as working with Edinburgh and Scotland at various age-grade levels.

3 Comments

  1. Some good picks there Barney: Mick Linton, Scotland’s John Bevan.
    Liked your call on Simon Scott, that 1986 trial was one of the most amazing matches I have ever seen. Scott and Stuart Johnson were two who starred that day who might have made it.

    41-3 to the Possibles methinks, and I recall the primitive digital scoreboard resetting to 0-0 when the score was something like 37-3 and a wag from the crowd shouting “next try the winner”.

    Many good players in the 1980s failed to get caps who would no doubt get a hatful these days.

    • Without a doubt Mick Linton deserved a chance but that was in the days of your face having to fit and old school tie prejudice.

  2. I remain amazed that you only found room for six Teries in your 22 Barney – but, we did pick five players in common.

    I agree about Julian Vaughan, terrific talent.

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