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Inspirational lessons to be learned from glorious past

The spirit of 1984 stalked the touchlines at Murrayfield yesterday as Scotland's players finalised their preparations to face France this afternoon under the watchful gazes of some of the players who clinched an historic grand slam there against the same opponents 30 years ago.

Former Scotland scrum-half Roy Laidlaw sits alongside nephew Greig at Murrayfield yesterday. Picture: SNS
Former Scotland scrum-half Roy Laidlaw sits alongside nephew Greig at Murrayfield yesterday. Picture: SNS

And while the presence of men like Roy Laidlaw, John Rutherford and Iain Paxton might at first have seemed largely ceremonial to the current crop of players, most of whom were not even born when the side of '84 secured the country's first championship clean sweep for 59 years, head coach Scott Johnson said their aura had survived the passage of three decades.

"It's nice having people around who have walked the walk," said Johnson. "We look for models and inspiration in all forms of people and when you chat to them they have stories to tell. If you can't get a kick out of that there is something wrong with you. These people have done great things and it is a privilege to chat with them in a setting such as this. It is pretty special. It is a good buoyant thing for the team."

Johnson stressed that the most important lesson passed on by the veterans of 1984 was that their success - secured with a dramatic 21-12 victory over France - had been forged in adversity, their characters strengthened through many defeats before the triumph that wrote their names into rugby history.

"There has got to be great respect for what those players have done," he said. "We can't celebrate their achievement often enough or highly enough. It was great for them to turn up here and we have to show respect for that. What they achieved was a wonderful achievement but first they are wonderful, amiable blokes.

"They weathered the storm, they came through it and they probably contributed in rugby in so many different ways because of the humbling experience of not having success and then enjoying the success. It is a good story to tell."

France, who lost their Six Nations unbeaten record against Wales two weeks ago, need a win today to keep their title hopes alive. The incentive to Scotland is to build on the victory against Italy that was their first away success in the championship for four years.

The Scots were forced to make a late change to their bench yesterday when Edinburgh prop Alasdair Dickinson failed a fitness test on the calf injury he suffered against Italy. His place among the replacements will be taken by Glasgow's Moray Low.

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