Moray Low's memory of what happened on the pitch when he first came to Murrayfield for a Scotland-France game is somewhat hazy. "I was a kid with my dad, sitting in the corner up there," the Glasgow prop recalled, pointing towards the junction of the west and north stands. "I was only five and all these French people were shouting and cheering and blowing trumpets. I had a big French guy next to me smoking a cigar and I was scared of him. I wanted to go before the end."
Twenty years on, Low will have a front-row seat when Scotland launch their 2010 Six Nations campaign against France at Murrayfield today. Instead of smoke getting in his eyes, he will have Thomas Domingo, the Clermont Auvergne loosehead, in his face at scrum-time.
Low made his debut for Scotland off the bench in the 22-13 defeat in the Stade de France in last year's Six Nations. He also came on as a replacement against England at Twickenham, and played from the start in all three of Scotland's autumn Tests, as a stand-in at tighthead prop for the injured Euan Murray.
The 25-year-old from Lossiemouth, on the north-east coast of Scotland, gets his first Six Nations start today because Murray has chosen, on religious grounds, not to make himself available for Sunday matches.
"I was available for selection and Euan wasn't for this one," Low said. "We've got to respect his beliefs. It gives me an opportunity to start and go out there and keep that jersey. I've got to put a marker down leading up to when Euan's back for selection in the next game. I've just got to prove a point and likewise with him. He's got to go out and prove a point playing for the A team, to put himself forward."
The chances are that Murray will be back on tighthead duty for Scotland against Wales next Saturday, though Low has shown himself to be a more than able replacement for the Northampton Saint who made the Lions trip to South Africa last summer. He picked up the man-of-the-match award on his full international debut against Fiji in November and in the next match helped his country to a famous victory against the Wallabies.
"I was pleased with the autumn," Low said. "To beat Australia was massive and to get man of the match against Fiji was great. It gave me a lot of confidence. I learned a lot from those autumn games."
So did Andy Robinson. Scotland's coach knows he has someone suitable to step into the breach for Sunday games – the next one on the schedule being a potentially crucial match against Argentina in next year's World Cup.
A one-time removals man, the 6ft 2in, 17st 12lb Low has become a piano-shifter of substance – and nous, as highlighted by a subtle tug on an opposition jersey to open a gap for Sean Lamont against Fiji. "If I'd been caught I'd have been shouted at by Andy, but I got away with it," Low said. "We went through it in video analysis and it was described as just good escorting."