English-born, Ireland supporting Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland has challenged his players to live up to his adopted country’s Grand Slam traditions as he plays his part in developing the national team’s style of play.

Building on head coach Gregor Townsend’s stated ambition to play the fastest rugby in the world the 45-year-old got a bit misty eyed as he recalled the rugby he watched in his youth and particular the Scottish greats of the era.

“Andy Irvine was right at the start of it, but it was watching David Sole battling with Jeff Probyn that really got me interested in scrummaging,” said McFarland.

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“When he cut the sleeve off his shirt to deal with him and I thought: ‘Oh, I know what that’s about.”

“Finlay Calder and John Jeffrey. They are the guys I remember. I would sit in the living room back in the day. The only rugby I would watch would be Five Nations. A little bit of ‘Rugby Special’, half an hour on a Sunday of some dour John Players Cup game, but Five Nations rugby that was the pinnacle.

“Saturday afternoon sitting down watching that, listening to Bill McLaren. Absolutely brilliant.

“I’m getting wistful now. I would be supporting Ireland back then but it didn’t matter if it was England, Wales, Scotland or France. These guys were iconic fellows that made us fall in love with the game.”

Back in those days Ian McGeechan, Scotland’s head coach, was an advocate of what he sometimes described as organised chaos and since Townsend was very much a protégé of McGeechan there are clear similarities in the philosophy behind the way he wants the team to play.

That is, in turn, reflected in his forwards coach’s approach.

“We want to play at pace and for the forwards that means being accurate but pushing the tempo,” said McFarland.

“We’re a fit team, and there are players who will run fast for a long time. We want to take advantage of that. It’s an attractive brand of rugby, the kind that people want to watch. I also think that it suits the Scottish legacy. The legacy that I grew up watching in the Six Nations was about high tempo and being able to run the opposition off their feet.

“The pack have to deliver ball, that’s important, but it doesn’t become the pre-eminent thing. Domination at set-piece is something that certain teams will go after. We will look to be on the front foot at set-piece time, but our priority is about cleanness and quality of ball and then making use of the set-piece to cause trouble when we can.”

While today’s Murrayfield opponents Samoa have the capacity to cause problems for any team McFarland said that their unpredictable nature has effectively made it easier to drum home the message that Scotland’s focus must be on their own performance rather than paying too much attention to what their visitors are likely to do.

“Them changing coaches and having a lot of new players means it makes more sense to focus on yourselves,” he said.

“”In an international week you have a certain amount of time, it’s restricted and limited. You have to be efficient on what you do. Me spending ten minutes on Samoa’s lineout defence in a unit session that lasts 30 minutes is not efficient because you’re not sure what they will be doing. So you set up systems. You have an idea on what might happen then you focus on doing them well.”