There had been Scottish grand slams before 1990 – in 1925 and 1984 – but never before had all the championship baubles been up for grabs on the same climactic afternoon.
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Twenty years ago this week, David Sole and his troops began as underdogs and finished as prize greyhounds at Murrayfield, while England, so fancied, so confident, so complacent, in the build-up, crashed to a 13-7 defeat, unable to resist the efforts of a Scottish team, bulging with Lions and determined to make their home advantage pay.
Eventually, amid a raucous din, and with Craig Chalmers kicking his side into an early lead, as the prelude to Gavin Hastings unleashing Tony Stanger for a try which strained the neutrality of the famously impartial Bill McLaren, the match was won 13-7 – the same six-point margin which has been repeated in Scotland’s subsequent wins over England in 2000, 2006 and 2008.
Most of the Scots have not been lost to the sport they graced. Indeed, as we catch up with them now, it is heartening how many are still involved with the Scottish game. 15 GAVIN HASTINGS The Scotland and Lions captain, who gained 61 caps, and broke all manner of points-scoring records, continues to inspire his compatriots in his new roles as a sports ambassador for HSBC, as the chairman of Edinburgh Rugby, and by his involvement with the Positive Scotland Foundation.
14 TONY STANGER The Hawick speedster eventually won 52 caps before retiring in 1998, and linking up with London Irish as their skills and fitness coach. He has returned to his roots and works for the Scottish Institute of Sport.
13 SCOTT HASTINGS Gavin’s younger brother amassed 65 caps, prior to retiring in 1997 and moved into marketing in the intervening years, as well as cropping up regularly on television as an analyst, pundit and occasional presenter with Sky and STV.
12 SEAN LINEEN The original “Kilted Kiwi” has remained in the country where he first arrived in the late 1980s and had made the transition from player to coach at the Glasgow Warriors, who are challenging for the Magners League.
11 IWAN TUKALO The Selkirk winger accrued 37 caps, before retiring in 1992, and helped out in coaching on the Scottish club circuit. He is now employed as group safety manager for Scottish and Southern Energy.
10 CRAIG CHALMERS The Scotland and Lions stand-off gained 60 caps for his country and, after the game turned professional in 1995, excelled for the likes of Harlequins, Worcester and the Pertemps Bees. He is now coach at Melrose.
9 GARY ARMSTRONG The terrier-like scrum-half with a deservedly fearsome reputation won 51 international caps and consistently starred at Test level, whether for his homeland or with the Lions, and captained Scotland to the title in the last-ever Five Nations Championship in 1999. He now runs a haulage company in the Borders.
10 PAUL BURNELL The London Scottish prop didn’t make a habit of tooting his own horn, but did enough sterling service in the maelstrom of the front row to earn 52 caps. He now works as commercial director for Biffa, a waste management company.
2 KENNY MILNE The Heriot’s man, whose brothers, Iain and David, also played for Scotland, was one of the more laid-back members of the 1990 team, but still finished with 39 caps. He is now a sales director with a printing company.
3 DAVID SOLE The Scotland captain was actually born in England, but will be forever associated with leading his men out, gladiatorial style, for the grand slam decider. He retired in 1992, having gained 42 caps, and now runs a business coaching company in Edinburgh, as well as doing TV/newspaper punditry.
4 CHRIS GRAY One of the unsung heroes of that merry March day at Murrayfield, the lock eventually amassed 22 caps for Scotland before retiring at the end of the 1991 World Cup. Just as he did 20 years ago, he works as a dentist in Nottingham.
5 DAMIAN CRONIN One of the most loquacious members of the Scottish team, the Bath-based lock thrived on his own idiosyncratic methods, eventually accumulating 45 caps, prior to retiring in 1998. He now runs an antique business in England.
6 FINLAY CALDER The successful Lions captain in Australia in 1989, the Stew-Mel flanker won 34 caps, as the prelude to bowing out of Test rugby in 1991. He went on to coach Gala and Edinburgh Accies and now makes his living as a grain merchant.
7 JOHN JEFFREY The “White Shark” of the Caledonian scene, the Borders-based farmer was one of the most distinctive members in the Scotland ranks during his 40-cap career. He is the current manager of Scotland’s under-20s.
8 DEREK WHITE A quiet achiever, who survived the wrath of Jim Telfer, the London Scottish forward eventually gained 41 caps, before retiring at the age of 34. He is now a director with Murdoch Asset Management in Hampshire.
16TH MAN DEREK TURNBULL (for White) In the days before rafts of replacements arrived on a regular basis, Turnbull was the only other player involved in the whole Grand Slam campaign. The Hawick stalwart came on for the injured White and put in a massive shift for his country. He eventually won 15 caps and is a police officer in the Borders.