Saturday 05 February 2005
THE INSIDE VIEW
Debut: 06/12/97 v South Africa
What is your first memory of the Five Nations as a boy? Probably the '84 Grand Slam. Going to Murrayfield when I was nine years old to watch Scotland play France.
What has been your best moment in the competition? Winning the last ever Five Nations in 1999. Going away at the weekend and getting the trophy was really special.
And the worst? Last season - not winning a game is a painful memory.
What are Scotland's prospects for the tournament this year? Extremely difficult. We have made a big improvement and showed signs of being able to compete at the highest level. However, in the last game against Ireland last year we let ourselves down and we let the public down. We will be doing our best to make sure that doesn't happen again.
If you don't win it, who will? It's very, very close. England, France, or Ireland, who have proved they can do it - they've beaten South Africa, and England at Twickenham. We need to raise our game to that level.
Which player do you think will catch the eye during the tournament? Matt Dawson and Brian O'Driscoll have the ability to change the game at any moment.
Which is the most intimidating crowd on the Six Nations circuit? The French can be very noisy.
What is the worst punishment handed out to you by a tour court? I don't recall any particular one. Generally, we just drink a lot.
What is the worst hangover you have ever endured?
In 1999, after we won the Five Nations, I went out for the night in Glasgow and was due to fly out of the city the following morning. I woke up at six o'clock in the morning for an interview on Good Morning and I just felt terrible. I didn't even get paid for that.
What is your favourite...
Book? The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Film? Shrek (below).
Band? I don't really listen to music that much, but anything that's easy listening.
TV programme? The West Wing, Series Four.
IF SCOTLAND MADE MUSIC THEY'D BE... THE PROCLAIMERS
Not simply because the bespectacled Reid twins were born in Leith and grew up in Fife, but because you need a seriously good pair of glasses to see a potential win for Scotland in this tournament. The Proclaimers once played at Murrayfield, which is more than the rugby team have done in recent years. As they might have sung in their most celebrated number: "Victory no more..."
2 KEY QUESTIONS
1Can they win the numbers game? Three domestic professional sides, none of them any good. Harsh words, but none the less accurate for that. Look at the Heineken Cup records - or the Celtic League records, come to that - and try to spot a half-decent performance by Edinburgh, Glasgow or The Borders. Scotland have too few players of serious quality, and those that exist are straitjacketed into teams who generate little or no public support. Help!
2Can they win any game at all? Scotland travel to Twickenham and the Stade de France in this tournament - fixtures they can write off as bad jobs before they board the plane. Murrayfield, a morgue of a place these days, may not help them beat the Irish, but Italy and Wales are realistic targets if only they can muster some confidence. Gordon Bulloch, Scott Murray, Ally Hogg, Chris Cusiter and Chris Paterson are not the worst, far from it, but when spirits are low, good players crumble to dust. And in Scotland right now, the spirit level is subterranean.
HIGHS AND LOWS
GRAND SLAMS 1925, 1984, 1990.
TRIPLE CROWNS 1891, 1895, 1901, 1903, 1907, 1925, 1933, 1938, 1984, 1990.
OUTRIGHT WINNERS 1887, 1891, 1895, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1907, 1925, 1929, 1933, 1938, 1984, 1990, 1999.
WOODEN SPOONS 1902, 1911, 1932, 1936, 1939, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1968, 1978, 1985, 2004.
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