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17 October 2014

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Andy Irvine inspires victory over France 1980

Andy Irvine

© SNSpix

Having failed to win any of their thirteen previous internationals, there was little cause for optimism amongst Scottish supporters as they gathered at Murrayfield to witness the Five Nations encounter with France on 16 February 1980.True, they had managed three draws in that sequence, but a 22-15 defeat in Ireland in the first match of the season was hardly the start they had been looking for and with two difficult matches to come, the “Wooden Spoon“beckoned unless the Scots could raise their game.

Only the fact that Scotland's matches against France had traditionally gone the way of the home side - although the French had won in Edinburgh on their last visit in 1978 - gave any reason to believe that the miserable sequence would come to an end.

As the game got underway, scrum-half Jerome Gallion put France 4-0 ahead with an unconverted try, however John Rutherford touched down for Scotland to level the scores. Andy Irvine's missed conversion was the first of a series of attempts at goal that failed to find the target and the Heriot's FP full-back came under pressure from the unsettled crowd, who called for him to be replaced as kicker.

John Rutherford scores


At the interval the French led 7-4, following a penalty goal from Gabarnet.

Gabarnet added a try early in the second half and although Cassude again missed the conversion, the Lourdes stand-off further stretched the visitors' lead when he dropped a goal.

Leading by fourteen points to four as the game entered its final quarter, the French looked certain to record a second successive win in Edinburgh unless Scotland could stage a remarkable comeback.

Suddenly Scotland began to get their game together. Passes found their targets and handling was more secure! Could they fight back?

Fifteen minutes to go and a magnificent move saw no fewer than eight players handling the ball, creating a gap which allowed Irvine to cross the line at the corner. Facing his most difficult kick of what had been an unsuccessful afternoon with the boot, Irvine finally found his range and Scotland were back within one score of the French, trailing 10-14.

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