Beattie to talk around his son's Scotland bow

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The Independent Online

Like Bill McLaren before him, John Beattie prepares for match-day duty in the Murrayfield television commentary box by filling in a prompt sheet with facts, figures and biographical details about the 15 players and seven replacements on each side.

"I'm just doing it now," he said, sitting on the BBC Scotland sportsdesk in Glasgow. "I don't have the same huge detail that Bill had. I have heights, weights and anything interesting - such as one of the Romanian players does kick boxing and volleyball."

Which begged the question of what the man behind the BBC television microphone at Murrayfield today would have jotted down about the debutant in the No 8 shirt for Scotland in their opening autumn Test. As it happened, Beattie, a former Scotland and British Lions No 8, had not yet got round to filling in the blank space next to the name of Johnnie Beattie, his 20-year-old son.

"Do you know, I should probably stick a couple of details down because I don't want him to be different in the commentary than anybody else," Beattie Snr said. "I can't sort of say, 'Well, he had porridge yesterday.' I have to treat him like another player, and I will. It's not a problem. I've watched him play rugby since he was five and, yes, he's our boy but he's also just another rugby player.

"This game's not about the Beatties. It's about whether Scotland can beat a Romanian team that actually, as I'm going through it, looks very good. A lot of them play in the French top league - Biarritz, Perpignan, Montauban, Agen, Brive, Grenoble. Good sides."

Beattie's note of caution was only natural. In his own distinguished but injury-plagued 25-cap career, he played in Scotland teams that won at Twickenham (the last to do so, in 1983), that racked up a record score against England (33-6 at Murrayfield in 1986) and that drew with the All Blacks (25-25 at Murrayfield in 1983). He was also, however, a member of the Grand Slam side infamously humbled 28-22 by Romania in Bucharest in 1984.

Not that such a fate is expected of the Scotland side in which his talented son makes his international bow this afternoon. France and England both found Murrayfield to be an impenetrable fortress during this year's Six Nations Championship and Frank Hadden, Scotland's coach of 14 months, is determined to maintain the momentum by cutting The Oaks, as the Romanians are known, down to a size some 60 points short of his own team.

If the Scots are to hit the 60 points mark at Murrayfield for the first time, they will need to click from the off - with Phil Godman, at outside-half, and Euan Murray, at tight-head prop, straight into the groove on the occasion of their first international starts, and with Beattie and inside centre Rob Dewey doing likewise on their Scotland debuts.

Beattie has been granted his chance in the back row thanks to some fine form for Glasgow Warriors, and to injuries suffered by Simon Taylor and Allister Hogg. With Taylor back in action for Edinburgh last night, though, the new boy will be anxious not to fluff his lines.

The same could be said of his father, who can recite the Bill McLaren commentary that accompanied the first of the two tries scored by Alan Lawson, McLaren's son-in-law, against England at Murrayfield in 1976: "It's Shedden. Shedden back to Carmichael. Carmichael to Tomes. Tomes to Lawson. And Lawson must score for Scotland...

"If my son scores," Beattie senior mused, "it'll be, 'Yep, he got his feet from his mother, who ran away from me often when I was trying to go out with her."

Scotland: H Southwell (Edinburgh); S Webster (Edinburgh), M Di Rollo (Edinburgh), R Dewey (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Northampton); P Godman (Edinburgh), M Blair (Edinburgh); G Kerr (Borders), D Hall (Edinburgh), E Murray (Glasgow), N Hines (Perpignan), S Murray (Edinburgh), J White (Sale, capt), K Brown (Borders), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: S Lawson (Glasgow), A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), C Smith (Edinburgh), J Hamilton (Leicester), D Callum (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Borders), C Paterson (Edinburgh).

Romania: F Vlaicu (Steaua Bucharest); G Brezoianu (Metro Racing), C Dascalu Steaua), R Gontineac (Aurillac), I Teodorescu (Dinamo Bucharest); I Dimofte (Arad), V Calafeteanu (Dinamo); P Balan (Biarritz), M Tincu (Perpignan), B Balan (Montauban), S Socol (Agen, capt), C Petre (Brive), F Corodeanu (Grenoble), C Ratiu (Dinamo), O Tonita (Perpignan). Replacements: R Mavrodin (Pau), I Paulica (Dinamo), C Popescu (Agen), V Ursache (Arad), A Lupu (Steaua), I Tofan (Limoges), C Gal (U Cluj).

Referee: M Goddard (Australia).