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16 October 2014

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The 1938 Triple Crown

So, with two home wins under their belts, Scotland took to the road and to their only away fixture of the 1938 campaign, a daunting trip to Twickenham to face England for a game which would become known as 'Wilson Shaw's game'.

It cannot be doubted that the finest moments of Wilson Shaw's international career came in this Triple Crown decider at Twickenham. As in 1925 the Scots needed to beat the Auld Enemy to finish with a one hundred percent record. This time however they had to perform this feat away from home in the English side's south London fortress.

It was an extremely tall order, but with a scintillating performance from Shaw, the Scots managed a rare Twickenham success. Scotland's attempt to win the Triple Crown at Twickenham in 1938 was witnessed by record numbers, as this was the first ever rugby international to be televised. Amongst the crowd that day, on only his second-ever visit to Twickenham, was a young boy from the Borders, who went on to become a future hero of televised rugby, known the 'voice of rugby', the legendary Bill McLaren.

Scotland outscored England by an incredible five tries to one. Leading only 12-9 at the interval, the Scots penetrated the English back-line time after time, particularly during a brilliant second-half performance. Shaw himself scored two tries, narrowly missing a deserved hat-trick on several occasions and made a third. Renwick (2) and Dick were Scotland's other try scorers.

Shaw was carried shoulder-high from the field by his colleagues as the Scots celebrated a 21-16 success and their most successful season since 1925. The press of the day acclaimed Wilson Shaw as 'the greatest rugby player of his generation'.

Wilson Shaw's international career ended at the end of 1939. Shaw was rather mysteriously selected out on the wing, instead of at fly-half, in all three of Scotland's Championship games. Shaw was largely anonymous, barely getting a chance to shine in any of the three games as the Scots frustratingly stumbled from heroes to zeroes, losing all three games and falling from their championship pedestal to be awarded the wooden spoon. Shaw retired from international rugby after the loss to England, a sad end to the career of one of Scotland's true sporting greats.

Wilson Shaw died in 1979, aged 60. Despite regularly attending Murrayfield internationals after his retirement, sadly he would never again witness another Scottish Triple Crown success, let alone a Grand Slam.

Written by: Paul MacDonald

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