Delighted to be able to publish this interview conducted with Scottish international and British and Irish Lions star, Scott Hastings.
Scott was capped 65 times by his country and toured on two occasions with the British and Irish Lions to Australia and New Zealand respectively. Scott played in two tests, winning both times in the second and third tests against Australia which meant the winning of that test series. A fantastic achievement.
Here is the interview with a great rugby man.
1/ You and your brother, another rugby great, Gavin Hastings, both made your debut in 1986 for Scotland against France in the then 5 Nations Championship in a victory at Murrayfield. Can you describe making your debut that day alongside your brother as well as some other Scottish debutants on that day including Finlay Calder and David Sole?
Answer – A dream come true, and because it was with my brother, Gavin, it was a very special day for the Hastings family. There were six debutants for Scotland that day with David Sole, Finlay Calder, Matt Duncan and Jeremy Campbell-Lamerton alongside Gavin and me. Because there were six new caps we did not get our new caps until after the end of the Five Nations!
2/ Throughout your club career you represented Watsonians with distinction. Were you ever tempted to play for another club especially when your international career progressed?
Answer – A couple of clubs approached me a few times but I decided I would play out my time at Myreside with Watsonians!
3/ As I am fully aware as a Welshman, during your fabulous playing career we lost a number of top Rugby Union players to Rugby League due to the financial clout League had being that it was a professional sport unlike Union at the time, plus the chance for stars to try their hand at a different game. Were you ever approached to leave Union and was it a sport you would have liked to have tried out?
Answer – I had quite a few offers to go into Rugby League but it was a game that I was never comfortable with.
4/ You played for Scotland from 1986 to 1997 a fantastic achievement, if you had to list your top three games playing for your country during this period what would they be and why?
ANSWER – My first cap for obvious reasons. The 1990 Grand Slam – One of Scotland’s most iconic sporting victories, epitomised at the moment that the team walked out onto the pitch. Finally, the second test against New Zealand in 1996, when I became Scotland’s most capped player at that time. I was certainly not the best player that played Rugby Union for Scotland but I wore every test jersey with immense pride.
5/ During your career for Scotland you played in three World Cups, yet another significant achievement. How did you find the tournaments and did you feel those respective Scottish sides at the time should have progressed further in those finals?
Answer – I was injured in 1987 and only took the field in that World Cup against Romania only to suffer further injury issues when my hamstring went again. When I look back to 1991, we really should have beaten England in the semi-final, we had a chance to win that match and just did not take it. Rob Andrew kicked England to victory that day and that was the closest that Scotland has ever got to a Rugby World Cup Final. In 1995, the Rugby World Cup in South Africa was very special. Scotland was beaten in the quarter-finals by New Zealand. I grabbed a try in that match and it was an emotional day for many reasons, including the fact that it was Gavin’s final game for Scotland.
6/ Throughout your career you played at some great rugby grounds. What was your favourite and why?
Answer – Murrayfield and Parc De Prince – Both wonderful atmospheric grounds to play in.
7/ For the British and Irish Lions you went on two tours in 1989 and 1993 to Australia and New Zealand. How did you find out on both trips you were selected?
Answer – For 1989 it was a letter that came through the post. Gavin was named as the captain in 1993 and he called me to say that I was selected – Thanks Gav!
8/ On the 1989 tour you played in the second and third tests against Australia, both ending in victories after losing the first test. Winning a test series for the Lions must have been incredible, can you give a brief description of the games and the feeling of being part of a victorious Lions tour.
Answer – The more I look back the more pride I feel to have played in a winning Lions test team. The best experience that any Rugby Union player could have. We will be having a thirty-year reunion this year and I am looking forward to meeting up with some great friends!
9/ In 1993 you, unfortunately, broke your cheekbone before the test matches against New Zealand so missed out on playing further tests for the Lions. Do you feel you could well have been in serious contention to start the tests?
Answer – In 1993 I was injured and sustained a fracture to my cheekbone and jaw after five weeks of the tour. I missed all the test matches and had to return home early. I hate to see players injured on a Lions tour as it robs you of an opportunity of a lifetime, so that’s why I value my eight weeks with the Lions tour so much in 1989.
10/ You must have seen some hilarious incidents on the rugby field. Is there one moment in particular that sticks out in your mind?
11/ Who was the best coach you were coached by?
Answer – Sir Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer instilled a desire and belief into the players and teams they coached.
12/ Throughout your career who was the best player you played with?
Answer – My brother, Gavin of course. I also really enjoyed playing with Finlay Calder – A hard player, a great captain and friend. Sean Lineen was my centre partner for Scotland for twenty-eight games. We still meet each other and have a special bond that was fostered on the rugby pitch.
13/ In connection to the above question, who was the best player you played against?
Answer – Without hesitation, Jonah Lomu.
14/ With the Guinness Six Nations Championship almost upon us, who are your tip to come out on top and if not Scotland, how do you see them faring in this Championship?
Answer – Ireland playing with real consistency at the moment, but England, Scotland and Wales will be in the mix this year.
15/ A question we finish on for all the rugby stars we interview, can you please name your greatest fifteen you played with and against by position, please?
SCOTT HASTINGS GREATEST XV
15 Serge Blanco
14 Ieuan Evans
13 Tim Horan
11 Jonah Lomu
10 Michael Lynagh
9 Joost Van Der Westhuizen
1 Pascal Ondarts
2 Colin Deans
3 Iain Milne
4 Wade Dooley
5 Olivier Roumat
6 Simon Poidevin
7 Finlay Calder
8 Mike Teague
Thanks to Scott for finding the time to complete the interview and for giving some great answers to the questions asked. Not a bad greatest fifteen I am sure you agree!
**This interview was conducted in January 2019**
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