On this day… Scotland secured their third Grand Slam

On this day… Scotland secured their third Grand Slam

On this day... Today (17 March 2020) is the 30th anniversary to the day when Scotland secured their third Grand Slam.

The Scotland team of 1990 joined the trailblazers of 1925 and, by many of their own admissions, the inspirational figures of 1984, in winning all matches in the Championship that year.

And, just like 1925, the Slam was achieved with a victory over England at BT Murrayfield.

Today we look back on 17 March 1990..

Six years on from their second Grand Slam, Scotland embarked on their bid for rugby immortality on 3 February 1990 with a trip to Lansdowne Road in Dublin to face Ireland.

Coached by Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer, there were few indications of the tumult that lay ahead, as Scotland triumphed in a scrappy match by 13-10.

Their lineout mis-fired and goal kicking chances were passed up, so Scotland had many reasons to be grateful to the Gala and London Scottish No 8 Derek White. Fighting back from a 0-7 half-time deficit, White’s second-half try brace, augmented by a conversion and penalty from the Melrose stand-off Craig Chalmers (who had taken on the goal kicking from Gavin Hastings), saw Scotland edge home.

A fortnight later, Scotland welcomed France to Edinburgh and inflicted a sixth successive Murrayfield defeat on Les Bleus by 21-0.

Scotland, who had played with the gusty wind behind them in the first-half, had secured a 3-0 lead through a Gavin Hastings (Watsonians and London Scottish) penalty. Early in the second-half, French flanker Alain Carminati became only the second player to be sent off in a Murrayfield international – following on from the legendary New Zealander Colin Meads – after referee Fred Howard found him guilty of stamping.

Scotland went on to dominate and notched tries through flanker Finlay Calder (Stewart’s/Melville) – who had captained the Lions to their series victory in Australia the year before – and Selkirk winger Iwan Tukalo. Both tries were converted by Chalmers, who also landed two penalties.

Another fortnight gap and, unchanged again, Scotland were on the road, this time to Cardiff to face Wales. Wales had suffered an ignominious defeat at Twickenham in their previous outing so had rung the changes.Contemporary accounts suggest that both teams were affected by tension, but it was Scotland who emerged victorious by 13-9, courtesy of a first-half try by Bath lock Damian Cronin, converted by Chalmers, who also slotted two penalties.

That win set-up the most wonderful finale to the Championship.

The Grand Slam, the Triple Crown, the Championship and the Calcutta Cup were all on the line between international rugby’s oldest rivals for the very first time, as both came to the fixture undefeated.

Come the day, 17 March, 1990, and had the occasion been scripted in Hollywood, it might have been ruled as too fanciful. England were overwhelming and deserved favourites but from the moment that captain David Sole, the Edinburgh Accies prop, led Scotland on to the Murrayfield turf, with a slow determined walk, further energising the already hyped home support, it set the tone for an unyielding display by Scotland.

Those who were there, or who watched on TV, or listened to the tannoy announcements at football grounds and even at Jenner’s department store on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, will have their own memories.

Calder’s talismanic charge from an early tap penalty that saw Scotland gain precious yardage; Scott Hastings, the Watsonian centre’s, magnificent saving tackle on an escaping Rory Underwood in the second-half and then THAT try. All indelibly etched on the mind.

Scotland led 9-4 at the break, three Chalmers penalties to a cracking try from Jeremy Guscott before the moment, early in the second-half, that confirmed the impetus was with the home team.

From a scrum, Jed-Forest scrum-half Gary Armstrong threatened before launching an overhead pass to Gavin Hastings, who flirted with the West Stand touchline but managed to kick ahead. Tony Stanger, the Hawick wing, pursued feverishly, collected the perfect bounce and touched down for the try.

Scotland, against the odds, had triumphed 13-7 and 16 players – Hawick’s Derek Turnbull replaced the injured White early in the match – joined the heroes of 1925 and 1984 in securing the Grand Slam.

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