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Great memories of a great contest - roll on the Six Nations

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John Beattie | 11:24 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

Go on then, what is your favourite Five/Six Nations memory? And, deep down, do the results matter?

Glasgow resembles foggy London as depicted in an old Sherlock Holmes film, but the mornings are slightly brighter, and the evenings too, and it can mean but one thing: it's just over a week until the start of the Six Nations.

If you are like me then this will make you smile more than impending spring, daffodils, crocuses, rutting stags, and the thought that not that long away we might get back to wearing short sleeved shirts.

I love this time of year.

I've talked before of being a teenager and going to games but the stage after that was getting to play for my country. As a student this meant two days off university, a full fry-up for breakfast, then for lunch it was prawn cocktail, sole goujons, steak and chips, apple pie and ice cream - and that was before the game on Saturdays.

My first game was in Ireland. It was an honour, and it was frantic, but I felt at home if that doesn't sound silly. At home with fourteen other blokes in blue.

Afterwards we sat with the Irish players. And so it went on as next up came France at home (we won), Wales away (we lost) and England at home (we lost) when a skinny bloke called Clive Woodward had a very good game.

Chris Gray, David Sole and Finlay Calder celebrate 1990's Grand Slam-clinching win against England

My memories of the Five Nations as a watcher, before I played, include the incredible French team of the 1970s and my Scottish rugby heroes. There were Welshmen called Price, Squire and Edwards. Englishmen called Beaumont, Duckham and Cotton, Irishmen Keane, Duggan and Slattery, and Frenchmen called Rives, Skrela (yup, his Dad) and Maso.

There was an Andy Irvine try against France, the French in full flow in Paris, and one incredible Phil Bennet try at Murrayfield.

Then I got to take park. Being involved will never leave me: the noise of the crowd, being with the opposition afterwards and feeling like kings if we had won.

Since retiring what do I remember? The great English team that had at its core Moore, Richards, Carling and Guscott. A Ieuan Evans try where Bill McLaren called him a magician, the Irish at their peak with Brian O'Driscoll imperious, the great French players like Dominici, and the Italians winning - sadly, against Scotland sometimes.

But I if I had to pick one moment what would it be? Do you know it's not a win, nor a try, nor a scrum nor a tackle. No, it's a gesture.

Oh, there have been great tries from Scott Gibbs at Wembley to Shane Williams in Cardiff last year following the injury to Thom Evans. There have been harrowing moments, and demolition jobs by England.

But I think the most important thing about the Six Nations is that we are friends, and always should be. It's about people meeting in peace.

So, the moment I pick came right at the end of the 1990 Grand Slam game in Edinburgh when, at the final whistle, Finlay Calder went straight to console Brian Moore the English hooker, who was close to tears, and put his arm around him when he noticed how his opponent felt.

I have picked a gesture. A gesture that was bigger than some actions. I am not sure that winning is everything - you might not agree.

I want to hear your memories, and bring on some tries!

John Beattie presents Sport Nation on BBC Two Scotland, starting 1 February at 1900 GMT, and on Radio Scotland starting 5 February at 0900 GMT.


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  • Comment number 1.

    As a travelling fan it's often not even the rugby itself that sticks in the memory. For some reason most of my memories tend to be around away matches - for example I love the visit to Rome and remember with pleasure mixed Italian/Englisb line-out drills in the Piazza del Popolo before the match. Perhaps a little under the influence, but not alot.

    England playing at Croke Park too - phenomenal atmosphere beforehand.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tries-wise - I have to admit to a certain misplaced delight at Lawrence Dallaglio's try against Wales, trampling Neil Jenkins and carrying most of the pack with him!

  • Comment number 3.

    I am a newcomer to going to the rugby but I am already hooked. my best memory was travelling down to twickenham in 2009, despite a bit of a thumping by England. It was a glourious day, the atmosphere in the pubs was great, the fans were having great banter together and it was just a super day out.

    I have to say though, I am not a fan of the games being moved to Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Being a student I can't afford to travel to very game but loved sitting down on a saturday and watching 3 games, one after another, only moving to grab another beer or if nature called. now we have a game Friday, a game Saturday and a game Sunday...I just feel a bit of the magic is lost with this set-up.

    Is anyone else in favour of getting all games played on Saturdays again?

  • Comment number 4.

    Leaving the Millenium Stadium after the Scotland v Wales game last year, one of our tour went up to a Policeman to report a robbery....

  • Comment number 5.


    My favourite memory has to be Scott Murrays actions straight after being sent off in Wales.

    No protests no arguments

    Said sorry to the Welsh player then said "sorry sir" to the ref

    Sums up the 6 nations as the friendliest sporting event anywhere

    But the prices are getting a bit steep

  • Comment number 6.

    It's got to be Duncan Hodge scoring all the points against England in 2000, capped with that try. The emotion on his face said it all. The interview after with Andy Nichol was so memorable - his face blue with the cold, he could hardly talk!

    After a torrid tournament, losing all our games including the opener to Italy in their first Six Nations, it was justification for a team that were that promised much after the 5 Nations win the year before, but ultimately underperformed. Heart got them through.

  • Comment number 7.

    Best memories??? The one that sticks in my mind is...

    My Gran lived in a flat in Roseburn, near Murrayfield and used to watch the pre-match build up on her telly in the front room while looking out and feeling the buzz on the street outside, then we walked down to the game. I must have been 6 or 7, and Murrayfield on a match day still gives me goose bumps every time. Even when I'm just thinking about it. I completely agree with John Beattie, best time of the year and can't wait for it to start.

    I agree Ally Mc F, Fiday nights aren't internationals, I love a six natiosn Saturday, though the bonus is this way I get to watch them all!

  • Comment number 8.

    I've really enjoyed a couple of cracking trips for away games in Italy. Pretty awful performances from our lads unfortunately, but nothing near enough to dull the wonderful experience of watching rugby in beautiful spring sunshine amongst the fantastic Italian fans and a great travelling support. The first was to celebrate my now late father Kenny Oliver's (of Gala's 'Magnificent Seven') 60th birthday, the latter was the 2010 visit where we lost. Both visits were full of fine memories. I'll never begrudge the Italians a win, they are joyous and friendly in both defeat and victory. Of course there have been many great trips to Murrayfield too, although I can't help thinking the crowd are just a wee bit tamer these days.

    Sorry to pull you up on this John, but our stags rut in the Autumn. Maybe some boxing hares will do instead...

  • Comment number 9.

    Favourite recent moment was in Dublin last March - acquiring a match ticket for Ireland v Scotland at 4:35pm and was in my seat at the maginificent Croke Park in time for the anthems.

    Then Beattie jnr did his Jonah Lomu impression on his way to the try line and we never looked like losing - beat Ireland after so many years of defeat.

    Fave memory of all time was Scott Gibbs at Wembley 1999, then the conversion by Jenkins to hand Scotland the last ever 5 Nations title.

  • Comment number 10.

    Watching any forward in 'full flow' is quite a sight, but watching Tom Smith crash over for a try that inspired an unbelievable comeback to tie the 2001 game with Wales 28-28 was phenomenal.

    In fact, Scotland vs Wales has produced it's fair share of spectacular moments - Leslie going over for the fastest try in tournament history; Kenny Logan flirting with the touchline before offloading to Eric Peters to score; the Wales pack driving us back 40 yards before scoring to kick, continuing their run to 2005 Grand Slam glory. I could go on.

    I've got my hands on a ticket for this year - best atmosphere at Murrayfield when the Welsh show up - cannot wait!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Scott Gibbs sidestepping everyone in Wembley in the last ever 5 nations game.

    Neil Jenkins going straight home after the match to see be with his ill grandmother instead of staying to celebrate with the team. What a legend.

    Oh and walking out of Murrayfield in 1999 after being beaten and realising I was walking next to Max Boyce. No limo's or helicopters for him, he was just walking along with the people.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well I think any Irish man would be mad not to pick out that wonderful day in Cardiff. Honestly I don't think I've ever felt so proud. The tears were flowing. I just wish I was in Cardiff on the day, but where I was the celebrations were pretty good anyway.

    I loved BOD's try but seeing Tommy Bowe scamper through was a magical moment. And hearing the RTE commentary for ROG's drop goal then was just... summed up what every Irish person must've been feeling, all you could hear was screams of delight and chairs falling over!

    That whole campaign was filled with wonderful moments, like D'Arcy's try against the French or BOD's performance against the English.

    Other great moments down the years:

    - Keith Woods try against the English at Lansdowne. Line-out on the 5m line, he gets it back off the top of the line-out and barrels over. Was a great set-piece brilliantly executed.

    - BOD's hat-trick in Paris.

    - Shane Horgan's impossible reach at Twickenham.

    - Beating the French 15-12 at Lansdowne with Geordan Murphy scoring a drop goal from pretty much the half-way line. Though that was my first ever game and I was wide-eyed so he might've been a wee bit closer!

    - Outside of the Grand Slam, the first England match at Croke Park is probably my favourite. The history, the tension, the passion that day... from the first moment with the deathly silence for the English anthem to the GAA-like try from Horgan, it was a perfect day. I'm not sure about the coverage of that game across the water but the majority of Irish people were seriously worried about one or two idiots ruining the anthem and shaming us.

    I agree with the blog as well, what I love about the 6 Nations is the banter between friends. Not so many years ago I went to watch and Ireland - England match in a pub in Galway and I brought a friend, who was a soccer head at the time. We grabbed a seat and about 10 minutes before kick-off 4 English lads came over and asked if they could join us. My friend was a bit stand-offish even though I explained that it's not like soccer - sure there's rivalry but there's respect as well. The craic we had that day with those lads was fantastic, even though England won pretty comfortably (I think it was the game Cipriani "announced" himself) I hold that day pretty close because of the craic we had

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice conversation starter there John, which is one of the great things about the 6 nations and sport more generally anyway.

    Highlights for me (an Englishman) include:

    Scott Gibbs try at Wembley - crushing moment for the English, but just an amazing solo effort.

    Jason Robinson's tries - particularly against Scotland and Italy in (I think?) his first tournament.

    England clinching the slam at Landsdowne Road - Dallaglio scored a great try up the middle and Luger (i think?) finished in the last few minutes.

    Italy's first win in the tournament.

    Generally, the passion, respect, intensity, the atmosphere's, the anthems, the rugby... all great.

  • Comment number 14.

    I once made the mistake of taking my son and his wee pal to a Rangers vs Celtic reserves match at Ibrox, must have been 10 or 12 years ago. Since neither club had a first team match that weekend, it turned out to be one of the biggest football attendances in the UK that day. The atmosphere was hideous, horrible, disgusting. I had to tell my son's pal in no uncertain terms to keep his mouth shut if Celtic scored (we were slap in the middle of the Rangers crowd). I was in fear of my life and the two boys were terrified.

    The next Saturday I took my son to his first match at Murrayfield, to watch Scotland play Ireland. We got there early so he could see the pipe bands and pre-match entertainment. There were only a few people in the ground at the time, including a small crowd of Irish supporters a couple of rows in front of us. My son, looking nervous, tugged my sleeve and said "Dad, we're in the wrong section of the ground".

    The Irish guys, hearing me trying to explain that rugby isn't like football, came over and introduced themselves, shook us both by the hand, wished the best team to win etc etc.

    Sums it up really... rugby - the best game in the world.

    Although an earlier memory - one of my first ever matches at Murrayfield - I was about 15 or 16, with my then girlfriend - Scotland vs France, in the days before seats on the terraces - having enjoyed banter with the French supporters I turned round at a break in play to see my girlfriend with a Frenchman's tongue half-way down her throat...! Eh... 'scuse me pal...! Entente cordiale...? Je te donerais le big malky!

  • Comment number 15.

    Aah, the Murrayfield terraces...

    I remember clearly my first ever game at Murrayfield, when the North and South stands were still terraced. I was 8, it was the RWC QF with Samoa and I remember clearly wanting to be in the terraces (I was in the West Stand) - it looked like a lot of fun. I never got the chance in the end, the building programme started ernestly after that World Cup.

    Does anyone else remember when the Scots used to dominate the French every time they came to Murrayfield during the 90's? I have vague memories of Michael Dodds' kicking prowess... We weren't too bad in Paris too. That slight of hand from Gregor Townsend to Gavin Hastings for the winning try at Parc des Princes in '97. I may be bias, but that has to go down as a 5/6 Nations all time classic moment.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dear John,
    You are so right. The will to win must never obscure the fact that the spirit of sportsmanlike competition and friendship is the single most important thing here. It is a core value of the rugby community as a whole and its great that those who have achieved great heights in the game, like yourself, say these things.
    I can add a short memory of my own to illustrate this. Joining a packed bar to watch the England Wales match in the 2003 WC, England were losing at half time and there was no where else to sit but next to a fanatical Welsh supporter who by this time had had a few! Although there might have been plenty of room for tension as the match wore on (on this occasion England overhauled the Welsh in the second half), we were able to discuss the game and enjoy the game, each from our own partisan perspectives. We actually had a great time talking and drinking and enjoying a fantastic rugby match.This kind of spirit is part of what makes rugby great and we should never lose sight of it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thanks to everyone, great to read the memories above, brilliant tries, atmosphere, etc...
    The most surprising 5 Nations game, I think for a french or a scot was that memorable 10th of April 1999.
    First visit of Scotland to Stade de France, 80 000 people,a perfect dry, warm and sunny day of spring.
    I've never seen a so fluent rugby from the Scots! an away win with 5 tries, amazing!
    We were thunderstrucked!
    Leslie 9', Tait 11', Townsend 14', Leslie 27', Logan 57'
    HT 22 - 33
    FT 22 - 36
    Not a single point from France in the second half.

    You maybe right, it is time to play Rugby in spring!

  • Comment number 18.

    My first international solo at Murrayfield, crammed into the Schoolboys' Enclosure, Calcutta Cup, England ahead 14-13, clock almost at 80 mins.

    When David Duckam was adjudged to be offside and Andy Irvine arrowed the ball 40 yards plus and over from a tight angle and then sheer BEDLAM and DELERIUM!!!

    Oh and he also scored a try that day!

  • Comment number 19.

    Ireland v Englad - the 2003 GS game in Dublin. Me, my wife and son in our white shirts in an Irish bar in New York. The place is packed with green shirts - Fields of Athenry, Ireland's Call sung to the rafters. England go on and absolutely thrash Ireland to win the Grand Slam.
    I came out in pain - my hand was wrung off the arm and back slapped by the Irish supporters so much they hurt.
    Rugby's not a sport - it's a way of life, a culture, a brother/sisterhood.

  • Comment number 20.

    "That slight of hand from Gregor Townsend to Gavin Hastings for the winning try at Parc des Princes in '97. I may be bias, but that has to go down as a 5/6 Nations all time classic moment."

    I couldn't agree more! I've waited since then for some more!!!!

    My favourite non-try moment was in the early 90's at Murrayfield versus England. I stood on the terraces behind a goal and watched a Jock fan hand out "Tablet" (a sweet, really sweet confection) to English supporters at half time, which they took as a sign of hospitality. As they hungrily bit into it, he demanded 50pence from each of them! An absolute gem.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hawkeye the jock - great moment for Gregor, terrible caricature of the Scots though!

    JemMcd - I AGREE entirely. See when we are all eighty, it won't be the wins we count up, but the people we met, the trips we made, the pints we had, and the fact that we mixed with the opposition. That's what makes rugby.

    davidjbrodie - I remember the schoolboy seats. School uniform, low wooden benches, and you could almost touch the players - why did they change rugby grounds?

    Hugues - the trouble is, France usually win and are a great team.

    pascoty - thanks, you hit the spot exactly

    Big_DS, that would have been 1991. I was commentating(summarising) on radio, and interviewed the Samoans and saw them get off their bus singing. Magical

    Albi - and did you marry her?

    foxtrotcharlie -how could I forget Jason Robinson - he could go sideways with ease could he not?

    Tea is ready, so will come back to this later.

    Another memory has come back to me though, Benazzi and a rumble of a try in Paris, Bernat Salles and his little salute (unlike that of Florian Fritz)

  • Comment number 22.

    One of things I love about a rugby international is the atmosphere. I get a lump in my throat as we sing Flower of Scotland. I remember when Scotland beat England last at Murrayfield the English folks turned round and shook hands with us. In contrast it was strange at the 1872 Cup Edinburgh leg being in the east stand with the Glagow supporters whilst the Edinburgh ones were in the west stand! One thing I am not sure about is having alcohol in the stadium, there's more bad language and lots of people getting up to go to the loo!

  • Comment number 23.

    John. A belated thank you dating back to 1996 (I think!!). I was over for the Dublin weekend obviously without a ticket and I think you took pity on me standing outside the ground and you gave me a spare ticket you had. I think Scotland won that day but it would not have mattered, a fantastic weekend, still in touch with people I met in those days and that is what rugby is about.

  • Comment number 24.

    I love this time of year!

    On the eve of the 6 Nations, I have all the pent-up excitement of a child on Christmas morning, as best expressed in The Who’s song ‘Christmas’ from the album 'Tommy':
    "Did you ever see the faces of the children,
    They get so excited
    Waking up on Christmas morning
    Hours before the winter suns ignited.
    They believe in dreams and all they mean
    Including heaven's generosity.
    Peeping round the door
    To see what parcels are for free
    In curiosity.”

    That’s me, after all these years, the excitement never diminishes.

    I'm an unabashed fan of the game of Rugby Football; no other sport comes close. In fact, I regard other sports as merely pastimes. Rugby is pure sport, pure contest, and the international game is the height, the pinnacle of this contest.

    I am never disappointed.

    Therefore, it's difficult to select one or two favourite memories from the years that I've played and watched rugby. However, if pressed to select the most memorable, then the day that David Sole walked his team onto the hallowed turf of Murrayfield and captained them to victory, comes very close.

  • Comment number 25.

    I was lucky enough to be at the Wales v Scotland match last year. After watching Scotland do us over for 70 minutes it was just the most amazing atmosphere in the stadium when Wales came back. And when Shane scored the winner right at the death i turned to my mate who should have been at the side of me, but was actually in the aisle in a group hug bouncing up and down with two compleate strangers! Amazing day.
    Another Wales Scotland match that springs to mind is 1994. Remembering back i Think Scotland came into the game the stronger team, but the heavens opened and Wales played some sublime rugby in the rain and scored three great tries to win the match and set them on the way to winning the championship.
    After reading all the stories of friendliness and banter and so forth between fans it makes you realise football may have the money and the numbers but it will never ever have what rugby has.

  • Comment number 26.

    John,1983 at Twickenham,15 Hyndland Players had a great weekend in London,and can still say to this day we were there the last time Scotland won at Twickenham,oh I and you played that day as well,you can join us in the memories anytime.

  • Comment number 27.

    16: I have been to a *lot* of 5/6N and RWC matches, but I was at the Wales vs England QF in 2003 and it stills sticks as the best atmosphere ever in my experience. If only we could have beaten them!

    Greatest non-rugby moment: after the worst curry *ever* in Dublin in 1990(?), me and a mate decided we had to make them pay, so we unscrewed the bannister from the stairs, stuck it down my trousers, and the boys carried me out! It took us ages - I still suspect the staff knew what we were doing...

  • Comment number 28.

    2 memories stick in my mind.

    Like you, a gesture. When Scotland beat England in 2000 after losing every previous game (I went to every other one that year and only went to this one because I promised to take English friends with me and didn't want to let them down, so had resigned myself to "taking a beating"). Yes the euphoria of the win was outstanding, especially as I had been attending since 91 and had never seen us beat the English, but in the deluge, the English team walked off and stayed in their dressing rooms, refusing to publically accept the Championship trophy being presented in public, one man stood and shook every Scottish players hand - Jason Leonard - a rugby legend. I have been lucky enough to meet him since and say how touched I was by that gesture, in contrast with some of his fellow team-mates.

    The other high was Paris 95, Gavin Hastings, under the posts for the first win since 69. Travelled with no hope or expectation on my first trip to Paris and recall the sick feeling towards the end when the game was level and Gregor sliced his kick straight to a frenchman who scored - I would have been happy with a draw, thankfully the team had other ideas. The policemen closed streets round teh stadium to let us party and many ex-internationals came past and joined us outside the old Parc de Prince. I got so drunk afterwards I had to go and buy a paper in the morning to believe it had happened.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have loads of great memories of the 5n / 6n.

    Remember being at Murrayfield for Scotland V France when Andy Irvine was having a nightmare. We were getting beaten by a French side playing well within their limits going in to the last 10 / 15 minutes of the match. Up steps the previously useless Andy Irvine with 2 tries to claim victory.

    Andy Irvine's kick against England from,'' fully 45 metres and it's on the wrong touchline for him. '' as Bill Mclaren pointed out.

    David Leslie charging down Alan Old's clearance and scoring.

    Le grand chelem 1984...coming out of the ground and one of the burger vans selling escargot 'n' chips

    Being in the crowd of 103,000 at Murrayfield when Scotland played Wales (think it was 1975). This was the last pay at the gate match at Murrayfield. The Schoolboy enclosure was festooned with burly adult Welsh men; The pillars supporting the old scoreboard had Welsh fans climbing on them just to get a fleeting glimpse of the action. I also remember helping 2 Welsh fans get their giant leek through the turnstiles and I could'nt believe the weight of it. When we got in they unscrewed the bottom of the said leek and handed me a can of beer for my trouble...I was 14 years old

    Lansdowne Rd in the 90's when Scotland just could'nt lose. In particular I remember Derek White's pick up and run-in from 35 yards without an Irish hand touching him....

    Cardiff arms park. Nuff said. Fantastic stadium and great atmosphere.

  • Comment number 30.

    Phew, 40 years of Murrayfield attendence.
    Gareth Edwards sliding through the mud to score in the corner.
    Andy Irvine being booed in first half against France then destroying them second half.
    Being one of 10000 who planned to meet under the clock and we all somehow did meet.
    The exhiliration and a little fear at being one of 118000 (nowadays directory enquiries but on one memorable afternoon a crowd)
    And going into a hotel on North Bridge with my wife and a huge hangover for breakfast at the end of March 1990 and realising that the guy next to me in the queue was Ian Mcgeechan then looking round and seeing the Scottish team enjoying the morning after a great day.

  • Comment number 31.

    I couldn't agree more. I've been really lucky to have had a playing career with the Royal Navy and Havant plus an array of other clubs, and my fondest memories are all of that fabled 'Third Half'.
    Many's the time I have been drinking, laughing and singing with a guy who only a few hours earlier was trying to remove my kidney with his studs (or vice versa!), ah those were the days.
    Rugby remains the true sport of Kings, it instils team ethos, honour, courage, dedication, tolerance and respect.
    Perhaps Andy Gray and Richard Keys could learn a bit about the latter two from us?
    Great blog, all the best to the Tartan Army in the forthcoming competition, but not at HQ, we'll turn over the Auld enemy methinks!!!!


  • Comment number 32.

    As far as 5/6 Nations memories go, anyone remember these:

    Clive Woodward dances through the entire Scots pack to score a great try at Murrayfield, I think?.

    Andy Irvine catching the ball after it was kicked through and sprinting up the left hand touchline to score.

    Serge Blanco deciding to run a missed penalty attempt back at the English, lovely link play with Sella (?) and a great cross kick for the winger, who's name escapes me, to score under the posts at Twickenham.

    Scott Quinell stealing a lineout in France and scoring to lead Wales to victory.

    Sir Gavin of Hastings great try against the French to seal a great victory (let's face it, we all love the French getting beat!)

    Great competition, I've got butterflies already!!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    "why did they change rugby grounds?"

    Probably as direct result of the Wales Game the following season, which must have had well over 100-110k spectators and put massive pressure on all aspects of the stadium's fairly antiquated infrastructure and facilities. And nothing really went wrong on the day due to the sheer size of Murrayfield, with all the over-spill areas to take up the excess numbers coupled with the ebullient nature of the combined support.

    Incidentally that was my last spectating game till 2004! Went back to the round ball but back again at club and international games when not watching "fitba"!

  • Comment number 34.

    Last year - last game - Ireland v Scotland. I was in Waxy O'Connor's (Irish, need I say) pub in London and thoroughly enjoying the game. There were a few blue shirts among the green ones. Being a Scot with an Irish mother, I can enjoy all points from both teams! However, on the day, the blue has to come ahead of the green! Great atmosphere in the pub - lots of banter. My shout of 'come on Danny bhoy' when Dan Parks was lining up the winning kick was met only with laughs. Lots of handshakes and 'well dones' at the end of the game.
    I can confidently say that it would be the same in an English/Welsh/French/Italian pub. What other sport can claim such friendliness?

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh John, '86 SvE... My first game with my Dad. With an overnight train from Kings X and my father told me stories of the graet AB's side that toured and played @ Rubislaw in the 60's. We took the sleeper on Friday night and arrived in the 'burgh at 06.50. A fry up. A trip to the Castle and then on, on on to Murrayfield. Turn left and head down the bank to the north terrace. The ground white with snow and then. Then... A feeling I get every time I head to the only place to watch Rugby. A knot in my gut, anticipation coupled with the fear of the unkown. Will we do it? Can we do it? A scarf, a rosette, A Flower of Scotland... I fell in love in 1986 and I can't wait to take my son on the same trip in about 7 years...As for game... well 33-6 isn't a bad way for your first game to finish.

  • Comment number 36.

    Nothing gets me more excited than a good game of rugby - especially the Six Nations. I'm looking forward to the footballing equivalent the Celtic Cup which i think starts next season - sadly England see it as below them but the Celtic nations will have some fun!

    I love the friendly atmosphere at rugby games. Why is it that rugby fans can sit together and not feel to much of an urge to yell abuse at each other, threaten eachother, or even lash out? Calling an Irishman a spud-muncher is about as far as it goes! The comparison with football fans is just appalling. They are segregated. Opposition fans can't leave until after the home fans as otherwise they'll start fighting.

    There are intense rivalries in both sports but i ve never heard of fans fighting at a New Zealand v. Australia game?

    Is it to do with the history of the games? Its hard to put your finger on?

    My favourite moment in rugby during my lifetime - i was born in 1988 but only really became cognisant of international rugby by about 1997 - is similarly a gesture but one of a different kind of nature.

    Will Greenwood on the biggest stage of all during the 2003 World Cup final took a blow to a very private region and stayed down. England fans were beginning to fret. The cameras were staying on him. The commentator's were discussing the injury - "oh he's winded" or the like. On came the replay. Simultaneously all Englishmen and probably Australians winced. Greenwood, upon "coming round" wincing and gingerly got back on his feet, saw a camera strained upon him on the sidelines. He was bent over having a precautionary fumble in the jungle. He looked directly into the camera - pull his hand out of his shorts - and proceeded with a grin on his face to make a two fingered gesture at the camera followed by a thumbs up and a pat down. With the commentary on top and the fact it was during the last quartre if i remember correctly of the most high pressured game English rugby fans had seen for many a year - it was hysterical. The funniest two fingered salute i ve ever seen.

    My favourite 5/6 nations moment. I obviously wasn't knocking around to watch this live - but Bill Maclaeren commentating his own son's try is a special moment. I think Bill Maclaren in general was the most marvellous addition to rugby. I only wish their was a like for like replacement as the BBCs current crew i think are pretty poor. Why do they insist on having explayers always and the same ones over and over again - i would like to see a few new faces thrown in the mix and a few less technically minded commentators.

    John - have you ever thought about giving it a go?

  • Comment number 37.

    John add your thoughts on Scotland's starting 15 v France. I'm normally quite confident with my lineup but this one is a tricky one. Main area of contention is who to play in the centres, on the wing and at fullback.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have been going to Paris since 1995, three months after my 18th birthday. I and all my clubmates are in the privileged position of reaping the benefits of the hard work put in by a few members of our club. They had the forethought and endeavour in setting up a twinning link with a club in France, and even better still, the Champagne region !!! This will be the 31st year of the Jumelage and will be the french club Chalons' centenary year.

    This relationship is incredibly strong. So much so that I am the third generation of my family to have been to Chalons and my sons have now also had the opportunity to travel to Chalons on a family holiday.

    I have seen Scotland win for the first time in Parc de Princes in 1995 with the "Toony Flip", France winning the Grand Slam in 1997, Scotland being majestic at Stade de France in 1999, and latterly a few good beatings by an expansive French team.

    All of these occasions have been shared with our good friends from Chalons.

    So, we are off to Chalons again on Thursday to renew our friendships and hopefully celebrate a good Scottish victory.

    Hats off to the people invloved from our club. DB, LB, TMK, JB, IN, AS, SJ, CB and many more !!!

  • Comment number 39.

    1995 - the toony flip and big gav's romp to a converted try to clinch victory at parc des princes. bouncing off the ceiling with mates in beer-drenched edinburgh flat.

    where has the playing freedom for those moments of pure magic gone to?

  • Comment number 40.

    Best Day?

    I believe it was the last match at Murrayfield before the terraces came down. At half time the lady standing beside me opened a huge bag and started passing sandwiches and chicken drumsticks to all around. I doubt she would be allowed in the stadium with a bag like that now as it would be confiscated. On leaving the game you passed a neat pile of whisky bottles at the end of the terrace.

    Best atmosphere at a game has to be the grand slam match in 1990. You could physically feel the atmosphere and I have never heard a noise like it when the Scotland team walked out.

  • Comment number 41.

    What a great blog and what marvellous stories. I'm basking in a warm glow created by other people's memories.
    I never played rugby. Growing up in Glasgow in a football playing environment, I became heartily sick of the "what team do you support then?" nonsense and was intrigued by the rugby scores announced back then on Radio Scotland. Who were these teams, where were these places, how could they possibly get so many points in one game?
    Then one day on TV, I saw Scotland playing England at Twickenham (1983 I think) and thought, this looks more like my kind of game.
    A university friend of mine went to the '84 Grand Slam game with France and regaled us with tales of Frenchmen in kilts and Scotsmen singing the Marsellaise afterwards. I was hooked: this is what sport is about. Cheer on your team but respect and have a laugh with your opponents too.
    Since then, my love of the game has grown and now I watch everything I can on TV when overseas and get to games at home when possible. Pro games, local club games and occasional internationals.
    I was at a shamefully half-full Murrayfield a few years ago when with everyone writing us off, we beat France for the (false) dawn of the Hadden era. I shouted myself hoarse along with everyone else as we shunted them up the park.
    A few weeks later, ticketless, I watched on TV as we beat England; turning to my friend to say "we just won't lose this now.." as Jason White tackled yet another huge Englishman in full flight about 2m from our line (or so it seemed) and not only stripped the ball from him but knocked him backwards about 2m...
    I've winced when the Italians have beaten us, even though they've deserved to. I've cheered on England at the WC but damned them to hell during the 6N and afterwards we've all drank ourselves senseless.
    I've suffered "rugby injuries" from a burst knuckle (from accidentally punching the underside of a table during said Jason White tackle) to snapping ligaments last year running for the train at Haymarket after the France game.
    After reading this blog last night, I sat in my flat in Norway watching clips of games on youtube and just getting that marvellous, terrible butterfly feeling in my stomach and there's still just under two weeks till we play.

  • Comment number 42.

    My favourite memory comes from 1990, Scotland's Grand Slam year. I was in the Pipe Band that day, the atmosphere at Murrayfield could only be described as electric. The great cheer that went up from the travelling England support as Will Carling led his team out, followed by the rising crescendo of noise to support the Scots as David Sole walked his men onto the Murrayfield pitch. I doubt if the bands could be heard in the stands as tens of thousands of Scottish rugby fans went, to put it politely, absolutely crazy, in their support. The noise never seemed to stop for the whole match. It's hard to pick out an individual player from that day but one that sticks in my mind is Chris Gray. He came running across the front of the bands looking like he could have taken on the English scrum himself that day, and probably won! Flower of Scotland being sung with unashamed pride and passion by the Scots, the game was unbelievable, the result putting the icing on the cake.

    Looking forward to being back at Murrayfield next month and sharing a great day with the Welsh as well as catching up with old friends.

  • Comment number 43.

    I am fairly new to rugby but my favourite moment was the Scotland Ireland game last year, I had gone back to my hometown with my uni friends and other friends from home for my 21st and after a nice big fry up and a long walk to recover from Fridays... Festivities we were ready to go. All my family and friends were there and when that Parks penalty went over the whole house went mental. At which point my brother and his friends who had been down the road in a mates house, because they couldn't all fit round the tv, went flying past the window screaming in just their boxers it was hysterical. Half the street ended up spilling out into the street to celebrate it was a fantastic birthday to say the least.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a Welsh man the singing between "rival" fans for me is always the highlight. After the 2008 Grand Slam in Cardiff I'll always remember running back to the pub through the rain and being invited to shelter in some guys living room. Inside I found about 30 or so French and Welsh of varying ages all with beers being handed to them and all in full voice. I spent an hour in their company, not a single word was spoken but the whole max boyce back catalogue was sung.
    Other highlights of course include the 2005 Grand Slam and my first experience of Croke Park, in fact any away trip is a highlight.

  • Comment number 45.

    John, what a brilliant article!

    I've been going to Murrayfield matches for over 20 years now, yet am still like a kid before Christmas with my first away trip to Paris lined up!
    I'm not sure what I'm looking forward to more, my first away match adventure, or Edinburgh finding that new little sparkle of electricity it seems to get every year as the 6 Nations rolls into town. (It's not just me that feels it, is it?!)

    As for favourite moments, I think your article sums up exactly what the 6 Nations means to the fans. It's a mixture of some of the most exciting rugby you could wish for, along with great friendship and camaraderie off the field.

    In pure rugby terms, watching Gavin Hastings rampaging under the posts in Paris off the back of the infamous "Toony flip" for our first win their in my lifetime wins hands down. I still remember leaping off my seat and cheering as he broke the line!

    Every group of fans has something unique to endear them to us.

    I remember during the early 90's being on the "schoolboy seats" when Murrayfield was in the process of being rebuilt. The South terrace behind us was packed, and some Irish fans joined us on the benches. We shared our seats, and they shared their sweets! The sense of fun that the Irish bring to the tournament (albeit they've gone a bit more serious now they expect to win more often), is what sets them apart for me!

    Some of the most dazzling rugby I've ever seen at Murrayfield was dished up by the Welsh in 2005, so much so that the lads behind me left at half time. I had an English friend up for the match, and he turned to me in sympathy and asked "Do you want to flee the horror and hide in the pub?".
    I replied that the tickets weren't cheap and we were enjoying some of the best rugby the world had to offer, and I wasn't leaving just because it wasn't my team playing it!
    Fast forward two years, and after a lively Friday night with much "Delilah" to be heard, we're queueing at the turnstiles.
    The Welsh fans, full of optimism after the hefty defeat meted out at their last visit treat us to a full volume chorus of "Land of my Fathers", which was an awe inspiring moment that truly made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
    Obviously my response to my mate was to turn and say "I hope we shut them up on the pitch...".

    The French, well they're a little bad mad, aren't they? Smuggling cockerels into the ground, bringing a full brass band and their little "Ole" at the kick off. But they also bring a very different brand of rugby, which on it's day is superb to watch. My favourite off-field memory is possibly an impromtu ceilidh with a large smattering of french fans somewhere underground, in the early hours of the morning in Edinburgh.

    The Italians - for what they lack in "rugby history" they make up for with energy and passion for the game. In their hammering of us at Murrayfield, I remember Troncon booting the ball out near their fans and gesticulating at them to make some noise, despite them having been cheering and chanting loudly for most of the match they managed to quell the world renowned "Respectful Murrayfield silence".
    I can't wait to head over to enjoy a match in the sunshine of the Roman spring next year.

    As for the English - well they're just fine as long as we win!

    I'm so glad you've written this story and posed the question, it's nice to know I'm not the only person turned into a "gibbering over-optimistic loon" at the prospect of 2 months of cracking rugby and the fun that goes with it!

  • Comment number 46.

    5 Nations only came second to Christmas when I was a boy. I have strong sentimental memories of going to all the Murrayfield 5N's with my Dad and brother in the 70's. My Dad would give lifts to any visiting fans and I always enjoyed the chat in the car on the way to the ground, I don't remember this ever happening when I went to football.

    My favourite 5N/6N memory. My Dad was too ill to go to see the Calcutta Cup game in '86. We watched it at home and his face when John Rutherford skipped over the English line was a joy.

  • Comment number 47.

    As an Irishman, there's 2 moments that will always live with me. The first Ireland England game at Croke Park was such a massively emotionally charged and symbolic event that it will never be forgotten.
    ....and of course the night in Cardiff for the Grand Slam (my first trip to Wales). To my left, a young family, with the kids at their first ever game, on my right we're a lovely octagenrian couple who saw the previous Irish GS over 60 years previous. At the end of the game we all (from age 8 to 88) danced, laughed, hugged and cried. It was only made all the sweeter by the brilliant reception the Welsh gave us that night around Cardiff.
    I'm now excitedly looking forward to my first ever trip to Rome in a fortnight. Knowing how great the Italian fans are, I can only foresee another wonderful memorable experience.

  • Comment number 48.

    My first visit to Twickenham the Calcutta cup 1963. Richard Sharp scored the most perfect try. Two years later a complete quagmire I believe England drew 3 all after a last minute end to end try by Andy Hancock.

    RWC 2003 Martin Johnson addressing the Referee as sir!!! (Footballers take note)

    Many more memories of great players from the past such as Mike Gibson, Gareth Edwards, Fergus Slattery, Andy Ripley and many many more - great days.

  • Comment number 49.

    Too many memories......

    1990. England vs Scotland for everything, the Calcutta Cup, the Grand Slam etc. NO TICKET! Twenty of us and nineteen tickets. Staying in the Learmonth and other associated flats down Comely Bank. Ten of us in 3 rooms in the Learmonth. Saturday morning search for a ticket and no joy. 2.30pm and resigned to watching on the telly. Other walking to the match asking everyone. Picnic sat on the back of a Range Rover up Murrayfield Avenue and a spare ticket for face value and the price of a nip. 2.45pm in the car and parked across someone's driveway. Get the ticket and get in just to see David Sole walking the team out. The rest was a blur. The noise was immense. Find one brother three rows in front of me and the other another 3 rows ahead of him. Walking back to the Haymarket the crowd was pouring down Coates Road and a woman, all dressed up in her finery, in her big Merc trying to get out of a side road blocked the pavement with no way past for the crowd. One Scotsman , in full kilt mode, opens one of the back doors, shuffles across the backseat and opens the other door, and exits saying to the woman "Hon, gie's a kiss". The crowd roared with laughter.

    Memories. The match was pretty good as well.

  • Comment number 50.

    I agree with Hugues (Post 17). Best weekend of my life. Scotland's first appearance at the Stade de France was sensational and I don't think the Scottish fans could belive what was happening in that unforgettable first half. April 10th 1999 will for ever be etched in the memory - and Jenkins slotting the winning kick the following day against England made the weekend complete. And yes, John, the 6 Nations is the greatest competition of them all - let's drink to it once again in Paris in 11 days time!

  • Comment number 51.

    Too many memories from the world's best sporting tournament but a couple to go on with:
    - Ginger McGloughlin (stand to be corrected there) with at least half the English pack on his back scoring the winning try at Twickenham in the corner.
    - My all time sporting hero the late great Moss Keane (RIP) for the story of going into the English dressing room at Twickers and interupting the English captain's pre match speech of "..kicking the bog trotters back over the Irish Sea..." and asking "Scuse me lads, but would anyone have a piece of hairy twine so's I can lace up me boots." And then going out and beating the English. Sheer brilliance.

    I'm off to Cardiff for the Irish game this year and therefore completing my set of 6N grounds - oh and by the way then off to Cheltenham for the duration --- should be back home some time in June!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    A personal memory before a game in Paris against Scotland, maybe 10 years ago...
    A friend of mine, his Dad English, Mother French, and Grand ma Irish.
    He knows a lot about British and Irish Rugby.
    We did not have a ticket for the game, so we decided to visit a Scottish pub (not a lot) in the capital a thursday night to feel the atmosphere and to be sure that a screen would work for the next Saturday.
    It was around ST Patrick's day, because there were some double deck buses full of Irish playing music.

    We were in a corner close to the entrance with a pint in hand in "The Auld Alliance" in le Marais, and sudenly my friend Benoît(50) was shocked, look who is coming in, Gavin Hastings and J.Beattie, I(47) said who's Beattie, he answered a famous Scottish back row, a British Lion...

    Not enough pints and a bit shy to go for a chat, anyway we closed the pub with Gavin, and proud to be with him on a photo taken by the owner of the pub, unfortunately you had leaved earlier.

  • Comment number 53.

    My first ever visit to the old Arms Park in 1993. We were standing in the terrace when Iuan Evans skipped round Underwood to pounce on the ball right in front of us. Wales went on to win a game they should never have won.

    I had a lump in my throat when the Gravel girls lead the team out shortly after their father died, and when there was a minutes silence for Bradley Davies' mother. What amazing gestures by the WRU. That kind of thing is what sets rugby apart. As someone said previously, it is a way of life almost.

    This year my wife has got me tickets for the Scotland game for my 40th. Never been to Edingburgh, can't wait. JPRsuckspennies, i was at that game in 1994. My Italian freind came with me and became a life long Wales fan.

  • Comment number 54.

    My best memory has to be my first visit to Murrayfield as an 11 year old for the Centenary game which we won 26-6, beating England for the 2nd time in a week. I think Chris Rea scored a great try that day and I thought all Scotland games would be like this. Growing up is painful.

  • Comment number 55.

    Best memory.
    Think it was the 2000 world cup (AB's v Scotland) and the David and Goliath battle of Craig Joiner and BIG Jonah Lomu!
    The site of wee Craig hanging on to Lomu, sliding down from torso to thigh...was there ever gutsier display in dark blue?

    6 Nation moment....
    The good news on the health of Thom Evans.

  • Comment number 56.

    The 1972 Five Nations Championship was not completed when Scotland and then Wales refused to play in Ireland following threatening letters to players, purportedly from the IRA. The championship remained unresolved with Wales and Ireland unbeaten (Ireland had beaten both England and France away). In 1973, despite similar threats, England fulfilled their fixture and were given a standing ovation that lasted for five minutes (I was there). Ireland won 18–9 and at the after-match dinner the England captain, John Pullin famously remarked "We might not be very good but at least we turn up". This is why the annual game between IRE/ENG contest the Millenium Trophy. Not as historic as the Calcutta Cup but just as important in the true spirit of the best game in the World bar none.

  • Comment number 57.

    Boy oh boy, thank YOu for all these comments. Just back in after a trip to the docs - the joys of sinusitis - but will look through these in the morning

    Keep them coming please


  • Comment number 58.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 59.

    Grand Slam 1990

    In the old south terracing,the atmosphere just before the players came out.
    Was unbelievable we didn't know at the time but later in the game we would have the perfect view as Gavin Hastings hoisted one high in to the air & Tony Stainger running like a man possessed looking up keeping his eye on the ball as it dropped perfectly in to his arms & charge over for the winning try. I WAS 25 YRS OLD & I had witnessed live SCOTLAND destroy England's hope's of glory. I can say without a doubt it was the best day I had ever to see my 1st ever Grand Slam. Brilliant


  • Comment number 60.

    Excellent blog as always John, and perfect timing too.

    With the English first up for Wales, the buzz is already building - though we are unanimous in that we don't like this idea of Friday evening internationals.

    I am fortunate to have been to all of the 6 Nations venues - except Rome. But I have to admit that my favourite away trip has always been to Edinburgh (and it is still my favourite city in the UK).

    I've been to Murrayfield several times now, but the trip that I always remember was the very first time I went up there to see Wales takes on Scotland. It was way back in the mists of time (I was barely into my twenties), so long ago in fact that I seem to recall that you were playing for Scotland that day ;)

    I recall the brilliant atmosphere on the streets of Edinburgh (as always). I had gone up without a ticket for the game, but my mates and I were wandering around looking for our next drinking hole when we stumbled across a hotel bar that had been taken over by Boroughmuir Rugby Club for a private function. Bumping into the Chairman of the club, we got invited in and proceeded to have a great pre-match time with the Boroughmuir rugby team drinking FREE beer !!

    Anyway, I was also given a ticket for the game in that bar. Later on, I found that the ticket was in a brilliant position right on the halfway-line of a very cold Murrayfield. Sat next to a young girl and her Mother, the young lass was fascinated to have a Welshman sat next to her in the game and was full of chat about what life in Wales was like. Her Mother also kept passing me food and a flask of whiskey throughout the game, whilst a good banter was kept up between me and the whole section of passionate Scots that surrounded me (it's also where I first learnt the words of Flower Of Scotland).

    Needless to say, between the beer I had drunk before the game (and the whiskey during it), I don't recall a huge amount about the game (other than we lost). But a great time was had. After the game, we had been invited back to the same hotel bar to continue drinking and were then given a guided tour of the city's bars by the Boroughmuir rugby lads. They promised (and delivered) on taking us to bars all over the city that few Welshman seemed to find (including the infamous scene at Cafe Royal in which the Scots rugby fans were all diving off stacked beer kegs into the crowd - would never happen in these days of health and safety !!).

    Whilst much (though not all) of the day was a blur, it still held many great memories for me. So much so that I have returned many times since.

    In recent years I have found myself working in Edinburgh so got the treat of actually seeing the city through sober eyes. But even then, as soon as a local spotted my Ospreys (or Wales) rugby jersey, a huge and warm welcome would follow and a great night to be had.

    Any visit to Edinburgh is always welcome by myself, but at 6 Nations time the city is at it's best !!

  • Comment number 61.

    In this incredible game of history and tradition and all of that great and frankly, slightly pitiful recanting of heroism, friendship and tales of daring do.

    This game that sees young men fight and struggle and old men talk about it, we swell at the chest with pride, hearts beating fast and men grow in stature till they feel their shoulders would brush the very walls in the corridors of changing rooms across these 6 great nations.

    But I would question that the greatest and most valuable moments in our sport have yet to happen. So I choose to celebrate the moments of evolution that so many fans continue to deny because it wasn't like it used to be when old Finlay Calder, Dean Richards and whoever else played, these men now would get rinsed for speed, dumfounded for guile and, regardless of how tough they were, battered like a bit of chip shop fish.

    Ours is now a game not for War Horses, Cart Horses and Pack Horses, but for Race Horses, time and history is only a governing factor in what is coming next. That's what's most important about the 6 Nations aspiration and evolution.

    Think about it

    Gibbs, Quinnel, Bateman, Robinson, Tait - dragged all European rugby in to the terrifying world of the physical, swaggering and brutal efficiency of our handsome cousins from Rugby League.

    How confusing when an Irish play full of historical feud and reasons to loathe the English from before all of us were even born - has a young debutant in the form of Mike Tindall look across at him in the tunnel and simply express - This is brilliant isn't it?

    Dallagio drags us into the era of celebrity

    Ben Foden - We have our Beckham, he wears nice boots, dates a pop star, and has more Gas than Abramovich and all his Russian counter parts put together.

    But my moment in five nations history is when Courtney Lawes leads the line as the first black England captain, and inspires a generation of kids who have never even considered this sport over football and hanging around waiting for an asbo, not only is he tough talented and an awesome athlete, with tattoos looking like he's been rolled in wet comic books, he's current, relevant and let's face it he's cool.

    I implore you all - look forward this 6 nations!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Not strictly a 5/6N memory but the posts about the old schoolboy enclosure brought back some great memories. Watching the Ab's in 78, I think, when Murray Mexted scored in the corner, he was running straight towards us, what an awsome sight.
    Throwing cushions all over the place at the end, ah happy days indeed.
    Greatest memories as an 'adult' would have to be 1990 or the Old Stand Bar after the match at Lansdowne road (win or lose).

  • Comment number 63.

    It is the most wonderful time of the year. The 6 nations is the best and what we here all know and what the TV companies and rugby unions don't is that its not just about 80 minutes, its the friends you have made and still to make and the singing, dancing, mickey taking and the drunken adventures that you will go on together on that international weekend. Its about the travelling up with excitement and traveling home with what saddam would have called the MOTHER of all hangovers. Its about getting to know the barman and bouncers in pubs in capital cities but your own by the evening of the saturday night. Every 2 years we have American friends who travel to Scotland to meet up with their Welsh and English friends and that somes this compeitition and this game up. Friday and Sunday kick offs will eventually destroy what we have but at the moment its still here. Yes there are idiots but i am very very proud to be part of the rugby fraternity and what that entails, maybe we are the last generation to do so before TV and heirarchy make it like football where we cant enjoy the game together and banter become bile but lets carry on how we are and were til the end.

  • Comment number 64.

    I still get goose bumps at the start of the 6Ns but must admit that 1990 and the grand slam game was the best.

    Forget the noise and the slow walk out, I still think that the Findlay Calder tap penalty when he is stopped down on one knee and the whole Scottish team steam roller over him and blow the English pack away was the most amazing spectacle I had ever seen as a spectator, I was 21 and it was my first trip to Murrayfield....if only they could all be days like that!

  • Comment number 65.

    Fantastic blog John, some great memories. This great game of ours.

    The 1990 Grand Slam - I was there.
    Watching the Stade de France victory in the Threequarter bar in Edinburgh in disbelief.
    My first trip to Paris in 1991 when my solidly built mate in kilt and girlfriend's fur coat (for some reason) flagged a taxi back to the hotel in Montmarte only to be given a resounding "NON" - turns out the hotel had a gay and lesbian club next door.
    12 years on in Cardiff watching the same mate insist the poor wee Welsh girl he had been giving a cuddy back to should return the favour - she crumpled - he went heals over head, kilt akimbo into the pavement.
    Rome in the spring sunshine - fabulous.
    Playing Cardiff Police on a Friday afternoon after a hard days travelling on Thursday followed by a pre-lunch warm up in the bar and one of them having the temerity to throw up at half time!

    Roll on next Friday, Paris here we come!

  • Comment number 66.

    I was one of the lucky few who got to see Ireland play England at Croke Park the first time. The atmosphere, the tension, the noise, my hair was standing on end before the anthems were even started...then when all the supporters started singing the Irish was electric; the finest rugby atmosphere I have ever experienced. It helped that the we tore the English apart for the full 80 minutes.

    Running a distant second and third; that Stephen Jones penalty dropping just short, longest 2 seconds of my life, and BoDs hat-trick against France in Paris in 2000, what a display of skill.

    There is no time I look forward to more than 6 nations time...can't wait for the start of this years!!

  • Comment number 67.

    5/6 Nations memories:

    Ireland, 1958 - Scotland captain Jimmy Greenwood knackers his shoulder, goes off, comes back on and switches from number 8 to flanker to play-out match, though obviously in great pain. Never seen a braver performance.

    Same game: Tony O'Reilly - charisma on legs.

    Jim Telfer's two tries against England in 1964 - as he himself has since said, he should have retired then and gone out at the top.

    Twickenham, 1971 - Chris Rea's try, then that conversion from Peter Brown, who runs back to the team, and waves brother Gordon away as he tried to cuddle him. The game wasn't over.

    The Centenary Game, a week later - Gordon Brown tackling the flying David Duckham into touch at the corner flag to deny England a try, injuring himself in the process and letting Gordon Strachan on for his debut.

    John Taylor's "Greatest conversion since St Paul" in the Welsh game that season.

    Alan Lawson's two tries against England, then, next day on Rugby Special, admiring the way Bill McLaren held it together in commentary as his son-in-law scored.

    A certain JR Beattie sparking off a record win over England by the simple procedure of illegally taking-out Wade Dooley, less than one second into the game. Dooley spent the next 80 minutes trying to retaliate. Anything goes when it comes to beating England.

    Cannot remember the year, but it was at Murrayfield and Mike Gibson signalled to the out-of-position referee that a Scottish dropped goal was good - such sportsmanship.

    Enjoying a post-match conversation with some of the French team in the North British Hotel after one game, and being assured by Gordon Brown and Sandy Carmichael that, although he didn't speak a single word of English, Benoit Dauga's English was better than my French.

    Some great post-international nights in the Golf Inn, which was the Ayrshire clubs' "embassy" in Edinburgh on these nights - one night, the Ayr club bus left Edinburgh without three players, who were waiting for us at Millbrae when we eventually got back there early on the Sunday morning.

  • Comment number 68.

    My best memories of the 6N (definitely my favourite time of year) are frequently slightly hazy as a result of alcohol... There are too many moments from the games to relate them all, so I'll stick to events around the games rather than the games themselves.

    Drinking in a well known sports bar chain in Nottingham with the people I meet there every year, with all 6N being represented. We may not know each others names (even after 5 years), but the beer and craic flow freely.

    Swapping shirts with a very pretty lady in a bar in Twickenham after England-France. Why she was in Welsh red and I in Irish green at England-France was seemingly a common question for both of us that day.

    However, my all time favourite moment was the arms up, head back scream of pure unadulterated joy for the Irish Grand Slam. I was in a pub in York by myself, in a suit rather than my normal green jersey, as my girlfriend was performing in a concert later that night. I think I may have startled some of the other customers...

  • Comment number 69.

    First Scotland away game for Cardiff in 1984..we won brilliant, until last year my best memory would be a pub in Rose Street after we had won the 1984 Grand Slam..One side of the Pub The French fans...on the other the Scots and we outsang them until they left...but this year in Dublin was better. I moved to Ireland in 2007 , and had to put up with Munster and Leinster both getting the Heineken and Ireland getting their slam, since I have lived here,,So watching Dan Parks kicking the last minute penalty in Croke park, surrounded by Irish is my personal best memory.

    PS to make it a better year (2010) one of the guys I coached with over here is a South African, so Autumn Series waas sweet as well..

  • Comment number 70.

    Wow, thanks for all of these, I will try to start from the bottom

    Before I start, what on earth was Warran Gatland thinking of having a go at the English hooker?

    Brian Scobie - one of my favourite memories is of getting Ally McCoist tickets for Cardiff, and a whole host of Rangers players came off the train and some of them stayed on student floors after the game and loved the rugby experience. It was around the early 1990s I think. Rose street, ah, take me back....

    Illumi-Lama - pretty ladies at Tickenham....never did that.

    Matt Vallance - I think Wade Dooley is a great bloke, the truth of it is that Wade was very tall, the ball was landing beyond him, and I went for the ball. And Mike Gibson, what a gentleman, I met him a while ago fantastic man

    scuba_guru - we should start a "Six Nations is in top ten reasons for living" club, I can imagine what it was like for you at that Stephen Jones kick

    Old and crippled, hopefully I am in Paris too...

    Back in a guys are good

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ireland v England 2001:

    Keith Wood attempts a drop-goal. Fail.

    Given his imperiousness in the game he had the divine right to attempt to defy all known laws of space and time. However, a mortal man can only be gifted a certain amount of awesomeness for one day.

    Still, one of the most breathlessly funny things I have ever witnessed...and we've all heard Brian Moore in full flow.

  • Comment number 73.

    If the 5/6 Nations didn't exist, filling a dark and rain-filled void, we would all be truly miserable. But, conveniently for all of us rugby lovers, it does, and brings the sense of anticipation with it that is unmatched for the rest of the year; not just for the game itself, but for the love of the game. The build up ads on the Beeb, RTE and TV5, the growing murmur in the press, the emailing and blogging banter between fans as individuals, nations, tribes and friends.

    The event itself opens the door of sociability - people who may never speak to each other once are compelled by a common love to have the craic, the banter and the beers, even if their English/French/Italian is not the most proficient... It's just a fantastic thing to witness and be part of, be that at the event itself or in the countless pubs up and down the lands - we all have a favourite. Savour the rituals, savour the anticipation, savour the atmosphere. it can't be bottled.

    Favourite memories - sitting right on the touchline when Ireland won their first Triple Crown, Geordan Murphy coming over and giving me a high five, for what I do not know, but it was something to take away. Even more satisfying was being at Twickenham for Ireland's win over the then World Champions - a lot of stunned silence at the end of that match.

    Conversely, England's destruction of Ireland the year before to win the Grand Slam - clinical, devastating, in many senses.

    Scotland's 15 man rugby to win the last 5 nations in 1999 - and the Welsh win at Wembley, fantastic entertainment.

    More French wins than I care to remember.

    Italy bringing great fans and a fantastic anthem, and mercifully the rugby seems to be improving too! Sergio Parisse could walk into any other team.

    The Irish Grand slam in 2009 is a stand out for the obvious reasons as an Irishman. It was the perfect denouement and it's very hard to describe the feelings of despair, despair, hope and outright uncontrollable elation in watching Stephen Jone's kick fall jsut short. Golden times.

    Roll on the big event.

  • Comment number 74.

    ah the six nations! my favourite time of year! almost brings a tear to my eye as i'm typing! i'm currently in the sunny climate of costa rica and i'm genuinely excited about coming home as i land 2 days before Wales v England in Cardiff!

    i first began attending internationals in 1988 at the age of 7 and as a Welshman the following 15 years were very dark times indeed. however, despite the results during this period my love for the game and this tournament in particular never wained. the joy of walking down westgate street amongst the thousands of fans of all nationalities, side by side with banter, song and smiles a plenty shall forever hold a place in my heart.

    2005 is a particular highlight for me, seeing Wales win their first grand slam during my lifetime after decade plus of painful results, the pure emotion in the stadium that day and around the city was extraordinary. as was 2008, which was even more unexpected following the disaster that was rwc 2007.

    away days to ireland, england and scotland (especially 2005!!!) are always great trips and i look forward to joining up with our friends on the continent in paris and rome in the near future.

    the six nations isn't just about the rugby, it's about the pride, passion and friendships that it creates every single year.

    roll on feb 4th!!

  • Comment number 75.

    The Ireland Grand Slam in 2009. As a Welshman I sat desperately hoping we'd get the Championship with the necessary 14 point win. The Irish fans were so excited and so jubilant you couldn't feel disappointed - you could only join in celebrating for them.

    The only thing that comes close to the 6N is the Lions Tour, where the world is turned upside down and contrary to all that feels right and good, you urge Englishmen to score tries, rejoice in Scottish tackles, admire the beauty of Welsh flare and sigh with relief when Irishmen land the kicks. And without the supreme rivalry of the 6N coupled with its good humour, you'd never get that wonderful experience!

  • Comment number 76.

    Fao JB "The Wade Dooley" incident maybe needs revisiting due to perhaps Blairesque "inconsistencies"?

    I've read that it was thought it was to be the late Maurice Colclough in the line out and he was targeted as such, you'd both been on Lions Tours together and he was allegedly a tad wary. The English got wind of this and swopped him for the much, much harder Mr Dooley.

    Any truth in this "shaggy dog story"? If so what a surprise for you!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    I have been lucky following Scotland away, Cardiff Arms Park when jim calder scored that try that started with Roger Baird. Paris when gavin scored under the posts from the Toonie flip. Twickenham when Roy Laidlaw made the English back row look a little slow!

    I've even done a bit of singing with a ceratin John Beattie in Dublin

  • Comment number 78.

    England's first visit to Rome in the 6Ns. Took a couchette train overnight on the Friday from Munich - first time in Rome - amazing city. Match day atmosphere was special, bathed in late winter sunshine (shirt sleeve weather). Walking back from the Stadio Flaminio after the match, consoling an Italian fan without a ticket who asked me the score, with a few beers (alla spina) in a bar in the Piaza del Popolo.

  • Comment number 79.

    two memories stand out for me. my first visit to the arms park as a teenager... wales v eng on st davids day. we had to win. we got stuffed but howley scored a sensational solo try near the end! the crowd went was like we had won the game! afterwards old boys in the bars buying me beers and a group of england fans... all they talked about was howley's try!
    the second was grand slam day 2008 and a french scrum on wales' 5 metre line... when wales drove them off their own ball. everyone (welsh, french or other) knew that wales had won the slam in that moment!

  • Comment number 80.

    I don't want to name drop but on one of my first broadcasting trips to Dublin we met actor Richard Harris. He was a colourful, fun, and friendly person and he agreed to be interviewed the next day in his suite in one of the Dublin hotels. We arrive, he was charm personified, and then later that day I went to watch Ireland A play Scotland A. Suddenly white haired man was shouting from twenty yards away: "John......" It was Richard Harris. I thought: take me now, my work is done.

    I so love Dublin. Leeson street, St Stephen's green, and just the feel of the place

    Just back home from a long day, keep the Six Nations memories coming


  • Comment number 81.

    Best memory? I can't believe I'm the first to mention Gregor Townsend's try in each match during the '99 tournament. The latter being the best as it was against the much fancied French. I wasn't at the match but vividly remember the French fans applauding him as he ghosted through the defence to touch down. Wouldn't get that in footy...

  • Comment number 82.

    I,m a simple soul who agrees with all the thoughts on our great game , the social side , and all those magic gestures by the players too the players !

    favourite memory has to be my 1st trip to Murrayfield. early 70's ... Scotland v Wales ... I was 14 so just missed out on the beers pre - match ... huge leeks and daffodils all around , friendly old welsh guys , 100,000 plus people ... We lost 18-19 , and it was last kick of the match , taken by a forward !! taylor I think... How did that happen ?

    Still it set the tone , and the whole family are now getting ready for our trips to Murrayfiled. Last season during the build up my 13 year old son said , ' Dad .. I,m getting goosbumps all over ' Guess i,m doing the job right I thought !!

    See you all there .... and yes I am believing that this could be a great year for Scotland !

    ps. happy memories of singing in Rose Street with Brian Scobie ! How you doing auldyin ?

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    Best moment, when fueled by Guinness with breakfast as only Dublin can purvey, I bumped into Tommy Bowe and Geordan Murphy strolling in the streets on the day before our 6N encounter. With a flourish of wit and repartee I announced to the mercurial Murph, " See Leicester? I hate Leicester".

    Tommy Bowe looked aghast at the magnificent 1872 cup shirt of last season and, recognising the need for a witty retort, said, "Nice shirt". Oh how the Blarnney Stone must have swelled with pride at such sophisticated exchange.

  • Comment number 85.

    Great blog John and sone great stories!

    Just a week now guys until the big KO...!

    My favourite Six Nations memory, like many of the other postsers stories doesn't involve a match. A few of us went up to Edinburgh two years ago on the Welsh supporters train. For those of you who don't know, this is a specially chartered train picking up in Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend, Cardiff, Newport, Pontypool, Abergavenny, Hereford, Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Wrexham!

    Although the length of the journey (approx 9 hours from Pontypool)may seem a tad too long, the 9 hours were absoulutely brilliant! People of all ages drinking, singing, playing games and haveing a good time...with the end destination being Edinburgh!!

    Memories include playing cards with the loser having to drink a shot of player was so bad the bottle was empty by Hereford!

    The sing-song that broke out after Preston; the whole range from Bread of Heaven to The Gambler.

    The slightly antiquated toilets where 4 of us 'used the facilities' at the same time.

    The joy of pulling into Waverley!!

    I would strongly recommend to anyone still needing to get up to Edinburgh for the Wales matches to book a place on this train!

    Two weeks today I'll be on it again!

  • Comment number 86.

    I was at a particularly awful Ireland-Scotland encounter at Lansdowne Rd in the 1990's. As far as I recall the final score was 6-6. Nothing happened on the pitch to get excited about. Towards the end of the first half a Scots supporter turns to me and says, "Do you know the way we Scots are supposed to have a repuation for meaness? Well watch this". He then produced what looked like a shortened fishing rod with a £10 attached to the end of it. He and I spent the rest of the game casting the note this way and that onto the shoulders of other supporters 20-30 yards below us who when they finally noticed something fluttering on their shoulders would reach for it only for it to reeled back at high speed to us as we cackled like hyenas. It was so much more fun than watching the match! Sadly, for our heads we spent considerably more than £10 in Slattery's Pub on the Shelbourne Rd afterwards! Mixing amicably with other supporters has always been such a huge part of the enjoyment of the 6N and long may it be so.

  • Comment number 87.


    You should really get a job in the SRU marketing department, this blog has probably got more people wanting to go and but tickets than any amount of fireworks or adverts!!

    The France game at Parc de Prince evokes special memories for me as I was at home watching the game whilst looking after our newborn daughter. I can't tell you the number of times I nearly dropped or threw Anna in the air during that game. Breathtaking attacking rugby. Metcalfe played a blinder.

    I have to say that the 6N also gave me my 15 seconds of fame as I danced a jig in Richmond high street as the opening credits of Grandstand were playing. Billy Connolly live the night before, Braveheart on DVD and a great day only slightly spoiled by the result. I never did get a call from Britain's got talent for the jig!!

  • Comment number 88.

    Favourite moment was during one of the worst matches I have ever watched (from a Scottish point of view). It was Scotland versus Italy at Murrayfield 2007 and Scotland had just lost three tries in the first 6 minutes.

    After Chris Cusiter threw a pass that was quickly intercepted by Kane Robertson he looked as if he was about to break down in tears.

    The italian no.9 Troncon was caught on camera during the conversion attempt approaching Cusiter and giving him a gentle empathetic pat on the back of the head. Cusiter looked on the verge of tears and for a second the two of them smiled at each other - A very human moment in a cauldron of noise and atmosphere as the world crumbled around Cusiter.

    It took real feeling for Troncon to cross the line of battle to empathise and offer encouragment to his opposite number.

    Jamie C, Edinburgh

  • Comment number 89.

    I remember very vividly taking my sister and her Bolivian friend to watch Scotland vs Italy and assuring them we were going to thump them. Cue three Italian tries, in the first 7 minutes.

    It was a disaster unmatched until the 2010 Welsh game, a horror show to rival The Exorcist. I was seriously depressed for the next two weeks.

    I'm too young to remember the Toonie Flip, but happier memories include watching Scotland's 1999 campaign, the try fest and Stuart Grimes touchdown vs Ireland, probably Scotland's best team effort.

    If Kenny Logan had kept his 100% Wasps kicking boots on, we would have beaten England easily and won the Grand Slam, and wouldn't have needed Scott Gibb's try but who'd be without it?

  • Comment number 90.

    First ever 5N game was England v France at Twickenham in 1979, a huge 7-6 win for England and one of the tightest rugby games I've ever seen, Alistair Hignall saving Englands bacon more than once with try saving tackles. That sticks in my mind much more than anything since!

    Living in NZ now, my 10 year old and I have tickets to see Scotland play the mighty Romania in Invercargill - it's not quite the 6N, but beggars can't be choosers :)

  • Comment number 91.

    Apart from good memories from the matches, I have made lots of friends through the 6n. We (Madras RFC) will celebrate a 25 year connection with Lansdowne this year and we look forward to another 25 years too. Met some cracking guys through this link up. Moss Keane, Mickey Quinn, Dixie Duggan and many not so famous ones too. Loved every minute of their company whether in a bar in Dublin or on the Old course at St Andrews.

    You could'nt buy friendship like that anywhere...

  • Comment number 92.

    My favorite moment(s) were always sitting down to watch the game and realizing the commentator was the GREAT Bill McLaren. At that point you knew the game was going to be entertaining. Now we get Jiffy and Brian Moore, just not the same.

  • Comment number 93.

    So many great sights; Andy Ripley at full tilt, Peter Brown's place kicking (he was a No8!), John Rutherford's Garyowens (I think some are still up there!), Jason Robinson on a run, Garath Edward's pass, Carling and Guscott in their prime, a host of great French running backs, BO'D.
    There were some Scotland home games where you couldn't see the posts for the fog, but the game still wnet on. Let's not forget the Dax band and French hens - imagine tring to get that lot inot a soccer match!

  • Comment number 94.

    Of all the people to mention who somehow epitomises the spirit of the 5/6 Nations, Calder would never be on my list. This is the man who smashed a defenseless Jim Staples in the jaw in a 1991 World Cup match v Ireland, just for the 'spirit' of the game!

  • Comment number 95.

    Lal13 - This has always been one of the inexplicable happenings in world rugby. I haven't seen the footage recently but all I can say in Finlay's defence is that it would be so out of character for him to deliberately high tackle someone and wrap his arm around their chin.

    That's not to say he didn't do it, but I knew Finlay and played alongside him and against him and I didn't see him ever do something like that.

    He became a hugely respected Lions captain, remains friends with many of his squad, and his gesture to Brian Moore was a great one


  • Comment number 96.

    Great blog again John. I have had some great 5/6 Nations memories and some great times I cant remember! Going down to Wales with Dumfries to play at Seven Sisters for over twenty years and being well beaten every time bar one. Match day in Cardiff will always be special. Being in Paris in 95 and 99, charging the scotland team 5 euros each to get into Kitty O'SHEAS IN 97. After the game in 95 we struggled to pay for a drink in Paris the french were buying us drink all night. Winning in Cardiff is always special and last year was hard to take, screaming to kick it out for the draw. Being in dublin for BODs first game and having a four foot irishmen scream in my ear "come on the boy o'driscoll" for eighty minutes! Further to the Findlay Calder thread I played against him in a second team match, his first game back after captaining the lions, and he was an absolute gentleman. Congratulated all our boys after the game and stayed for a couple of beers. A real gent and an awesome player.

  • Comment number 97.

    1990- England thrashing a good French side in Paris in 1990 in terrible weather...Carling rounding Blanco to score at the end after wave after wave of England attacks.

    1991 - French try by St. Andre in the Grand Slam decider at Twickers....try line to try line.

  • Comment number 98.

    Lal13. It's not beyond the most admired of players to do things in the heat of the moment. I seem to recall everybodys favourite prop, Jason Leonard knocking Scotland captain Rob Wainwright spark out at a ruck with a deliberate punch. Wainwright had to leave the game and Scotland were deprived a key player that day. Leonard got off it as neither the ref or touch judge saw it - the cameras didn't miss it. Now there are many more stories of the good things Jason Leonard has done so why hold a grudge?

  • Comment number 99.

    Ireland winning in Paris in 2000 with BOD's 3 tries.

    Wales beating FRance in Paris in 1999...great game with lots of great tries....went to the death.

    Scotland beating England in 1990 for the Grand Slam when nobody gave them a chance.

  • Comment number 100.

    And can I be number 100 by remembering the try by St Andre from the end of the earth


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