A DOZEN or so years ago a young physiotherapist, recently graduated,

watched Scotland's rugby internationals on television and thought how he

would like to be out there, instead of his former lecturer, tending to

injured players. For James Robson, though, it has been no fantasy.

Robson was Scotland's physiotherapist in the World Cup last year, and

he is going on even further. He heard at the weekend that the Scottish

Rugby Union's nomination had been accepted for him to be on the medical

team for the Lions' tour to New Zealand next year. He acknowledged that

it has been a bonus for him to have degrees in both medicine and

physiotherapy: he will be the Lions' doctor rather than physio.

From 1977 to 1980 Robson studied at Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh,

and in his first year there one of his lecturers was David McLean, the

Scotland XV's physio at that time. McLean, now at Queen's College,

Glasgow, has since moved on in rugby to be the national squad's fitness

coach. Others have been running on to the field with the black bag.

That, though, is not the only link between Robson's student days and

his SRU duties. The medical examiner at the end of his physiotherapy

course was none other than Donald Macleod, chairman of the union's

medical advisory committee and, coincidentally, Robson's predecessor as

the Lions' doctor in New Zealand on the 1983 tour.

After graduation Robson worked in the physiotherapy department of

Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary. ''I saw the limitations of that job,'' he

recalled. ''I'd always wanted to do medicine and go into general

practice. I saw the potential in being an all-rounder, doing sports

medicine as well.''

His plan for his own future could hardly have worked out better,

though he readily acknowledges he has been lucky that ''openings have

cropped up.''

Robson went to Dundee University in 1982 to study medicine, and it was

while he was there that he was drawn into rugby's net as the first

qualified physio that the North and Midlands district team had enlisted.

Since then he has progressed through the ranks, though he does not

forget the roots. He serves Dundee High School FP as dutifully as


His first engagement with Scotland was on the tour to North America

last year, and shortly afterwards he was offered the World Cup role.

Bill Collins, who had been the Scots' senior physio earlier that year,

had gone to Rangers. ''He had had the World Cup lined up. So I got it by

default,'' Robson recalled with typical modesty.

Robson could not go on Scotland's tour to Australia earlier this year.

Time was not available when he was settling into practice in Dundee, but

he returned to the frame with the Scotland A team in Madrid earlier this


Even though Robson is going on the Lions' tour he will be accompanied

by a physiotherapist. Kevin Murphy, England's long-serving physio, will

be making his third trip with the Lions, having been in New Zealand in

1983 and Australia in 1989.

On those two tours the Lions had unbalanced medical duties, with the

physio oversubscribed in comparison with the doctor. Next year, however,

the physiotherapy workload can be shared: Robson's dual qualification

will be a bonus for the Lions as well as himself.