2007 - 2022

Scotland go the hail Hogg

000bf926-800The story wis screivit in stane. A lively Scotland wid be crushed by a ferocious Ireland. Superstar full-back Stuart Hogg micht weel gang the length o the pitch an score glorious consolation tries, but it wouldnae gie us the win. The younger, safter boys in blue wid be claucht in the knuckles o Ireland’s scrum an smothert. We’d hae aa the licht, but no eneuch heat tae burn.

Murrayfield opened its muckle metal mou an roared. Owre saxty thoosan Scots voices chauntit “Flower o Scotland”. The lift owreheid soared up tae a bricht springtime, saltire blue. Ye couldnae haud doon that fey feelin, that thocht that, whiles we maun aye dae or dee, the day we might actually dae.
But the furst feev meenites pleyed oot as predictit. The scrum saw the Scots get pickit up like a ragdoll in the jaws o a fierce Irish dug and shoogelt till the stuffin cam oot. Thae early scrums were a dishertenin experience. But when the Scots gied the baw some air in open pley, they were makkin guid grun. The twa Gray brithirs Jonny an Richie were a glorious sicht. Baith o them are seiven-fuit tall Titans, an baith tane turns tae batter doon the doors o the Irish defence. The brithirs warkit up the field, Russel bunged ae lang pass oot the back o the ruck an Stuart Hogg was in fir the Scots furst try!
Then the fire-flaucht moment. It was the man o the hour Hogg again that breenged an boundit his wey through ane o the best defences in the gemme tae score a secund try! Murrayfield threw its heid back an roared anew. The emerald-shirted Irish mibbie hud aa the baw – 67% possession – but they couldnae dunt the blue wa that the Scots biggit wi their ain flesh an bane. The score wis 14-0.

Aye, Ireland goat a try thirsels, but as hauf-time approached it wis Scots wi the kists puffed oot an the braid shooders back. The Irish heched an peched an wabbelt like a battered boxer preyin fir the bell.

Ae gullus move saw oor centre Alec Dunbar hing aboot unheedit in the thrang o forwards, tak a quick baw fae a line-oot an sprint owre the line wioot an Irish haun oan him. Three tries tae Scotland in ae hauf o rugby!

As Romain Poite the French ref blew fir hauf-time Scotland hud a hard-tae-credit 21-8 lead.

The Murrayfield crood daured tae dream. Pints doused thrapples made drouthy by fowerty minutes o yowlin. Airms linkit an blue-paintit pusses sang o high roads an low roads. Doon in the hert o Murrayfield twa New Zealand coaches, Vern Cotter fir the Scots an Joe Schmidt fir the Irish, gied twa gey different team talks.

The saicont hauf strertit wi a shock. The Irish cam oot the tunnel like they’d been fired fae a cannon. They hud aa the force o chairgin bullocks, an the aince resolute Scots defenders were bein pit doon oan their dowps aa owre the pitch. The pynts-gap that Scotland hud gaithert sae carefully noo withert an fell like autumn leaves, as the hopes o summer fade tae winter’s barren truth. The Irish played us aff the pairk.
The better team scored twa tries wi nae answer fae the Scots.

We aa kent the score lang afore the final whistle. The Scots hud brunt aa their paper oan the ingle early doors. Aa bricht licht an nae heat. The Irish knuckles o the green scrum had tane a grip o the bairnie-blue Scots an wis smoorin them.

The Irish cuttit through fir anithir score.The gemme wis up. The saltires were at hauf mast, the celtic cousins were pittin us tae the sword aince mair. The scunner tae end aa scunners.

But Greig Laidlaw, oor fuzzy-pussit captain fae the Scottish Borders wasnae haein it. He rallied the troops wi baith word an deed. Ye could see him growlin at his forwards, demandin mair fae his key men. It wis aff the laces o his ain buit (may they aye be blessit) that the vital sax final pynts were kicked. Murrayfield roared wi sic a force that abdy in the Lothians maun hae kent the result. Scotland had retane the lead. An twa-three ticks o the clock later, Scotland hud tane the win.

An whit a gemme tae win! The Scots haed wrocht a coffin fir the hail Irish team an spent the furst hauf hammerin in the nails. Just afore the last ane was dinged intae place, a revivified Irish pack had smashed their wey oot, an were lookin set tae demolish us. Scots een keeked oot through fleggit fingers. But at the deith, oor wee Captain Fantastic blootered us tae victory wi his trusty buit. This ane gangs stracht intae the buik o Sax Nations Classics.
The camera picked oot ae aulder mannie at the enn o the gemme. He wis a grey-heidit chiel, aa in sombre black duds. At the final whistle, this staid auld character was greetin like a bairn. Joyous.

Gin this is tae be a year whaur Scotland dae summit special in the Sax Nations we cannae yet ken. But jings o michty me, we’re aff tae some stert.


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Comments (12)

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  1. English Chav says:

    That woz ‘summit special’.

  2. Maw says:

    Michty me Ally
    affy glad tae read such an account o a gem…… maks sense noo o’ the banter between wir neebors——- aboot the same gem.
    Great piece Ally – guid observation matched tae guid words matched tae guid play— maks fer a guid match indeed!

  3. Victoria Merten says:

    Barry wee read!

    1. Ally says:


  4. Alf Baird says:

    Gies a brek, thon’s a furrin military gemme, wi a unco set baw, aye fir thon preevat schuil ‘Anglicised’ teeps an naw voters, an no sae mony ‘Scots’ in thon ‘naitional’ syde onywey. “Owre saxty thoosan Scots voices”, aye an maistly 80-min paitriots aw. Rugby = Better Together. Is this fake news?

    1. Ally says:

      Aricht Alf?
      Ah ken ye cannae thole the rugby: ye gied us hell owre the last airitcle Ah screivit anent it an aa, mind? 😉

      In Ireland rugby was aye pairt o the “foreign gemmes” that the GAA banned fowk fae pleyin. Fair dos. It wis yaised tae inculcate in the natives a sense o Empire an brithirhood wi ithir sic like subordinate nations. Ah ken whaur ye’re comin fae when ye cry it “furrin”.

      But the warld aye maun be gied freedom tae burl. Times hae chynged. Fir aa that rugby wis aince the tool o the colonisers, an fir aa that fowk at Murrayfield are wealthier than the fowk that ging tae the shinty, it’s becam a mair broadly supportit gemme. Ah aye pleyed it an it wasnas posh lads I pleyed agin like, Ah’ll tell ye.

      Scots are Scots, an arnae the less so fir no gingin alang wi oorsels oan the independance question.

      Ah did feel betrayed by the likes o Andy Niccol when he cam oot fir a No vote like, it wis a sickener. But he’s ae man, no the hail gemme.

  5. Graeme Purves says:

    Ye’re a parochial scunner, Alf. Rugby’s ey been the gem o the braw lads o the Borders!

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “Rugby’s ey been the gem o the braw lads o the Borders!” Mostly since WWI, Graeme – noo thair’s a coeencedence. Its infliction on Scotland’s masses was largely the result of higher order schuil maisters an heidies wha refuised fitba fir wirkin clesses bairns.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Ye’re an awfy blether, Alf. Rugby is sib ti the gem o Ba, played widely in Scottish burghs. Melrose Sports sterted in 1883, weel afore Warld War I.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Ok, so private school folks and the ‘landed classes’ like it much. The social composition of the “Owre saxty thoosan Scots voices” would make for an useful analysis (e.g. private school %; social ‘classes’; party voting preference; % of No voters etc).You do recall the ‘rugby legends’ opposition to Scottish nationhood in 2014? Murrayfield is a veritable symbol of the union and the type of people who mostly benefit from it. The Conservative Party at play, even.

          For info:

          ‘Here We Go Again: ‘English Rugby Union is not a middle-class sport” –

          1. Graeme Purves says:

            A look forrit ti ye drainin the swamp that is Borders, Alf.

          2. Graeme Purves says:

            “the Borders” even!

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