* The aberrations of selectors have seen Douglas Wyllie's rugby career

wax and wane over the past 10 years but, as

BILL McMURTRIE reports, the Stewart's Melville captain has always

bounced back and his star is again on the ascendency with his selection

for the match against England on Saturday.

A GRAPH of Douglas Wyllie's rugby fortunes would be undulating.

Occasionally, the rises and falls would be steep, though nothing so

sharp as the seismological changes that have struck the Stewart's

Melville captain this season.

Little more than three months ago he was discarded by Edinburgh. Now

he is Scotland's inside centre for the Calcutta Cup international

against England at Murrayfield on Saturday.

One day a feather duster, the next a rooster, though Wyllie himself

would not crow loudly about it. He takes such fluctuations in his

stride, well used to them since his first cap as a 21-year-old fly half

against Australia in 1984.

Edinburgh's selectors dumped him after the Inter-city defeat by

Glasgow in October. He was among those not needed for the district

championship's third-place play-off against North and Midlands the next

week. The selectors, instead, preferred Ally Donaldson, Currie's


Wyllie's star, however, was about to rise again and, indeed, wax in

magnitude. Scotland's selectors were still interested in the 30-year-old

stand-off, not least because of his flexibility in being equally at home

as centre.

Not unnaturally, Wyllie was hurt by his omission by Edinburgh. ''I was

annoyed,'' he recalled. ''I didn't think I had a bad game against

Glasgow. I was desperate to get back, and it was consolation when I was

called into the Scotland squad for training.''

Later, he was needed against the All Blacks, as both stand-off and

centre. First, deputising for the injured Craig Chalmers, Wyllie led

Scotland A in the 20-9 defeat by the tourists at Old Anniesland, and a

week later he won a replacement cap in the international against New

Zealand at Murrayfield.

Again Wyllie owed his appearance to an injury to Chalmers, and the

cheer that greeted his arrival on the field would have made anyone think

that he was expected to stem the All Black tide on his own. But it was

not to be. New Zealand's 51-15 victory will long be sharply etched in

Scottish rugby history.

Wyllie was pleased to have led Scotland A. ''It was nice to be called

in and captain the team,'' he remarked. He was also complimentary of

Glasgow's organisation of the day. ''They'd publicised the game well,''

he said, ''and there was a good atmosphere.'' He could have added that

he dropped a couple of goals in that match, and his only disappointment

was that the Scots were beaten.

Edinburgh, too, discovered they could not do without Wyllie. Not only

did the district recall him for the Dublin match against Leinster in

December, but he led them to victory in the absence of Gavin Hastings.

''It was ironic to be asked back as captain,'' Wyllie remarked on

looking back on the district selectors' change of heart.

A week later, again with Wyllie at stand-off, Edinburgh beat Ulster at

Hawkhill. It was his fiftieth game for Edinburgh in a district career

that began when he was a 19-year old back in 1982. Only Jim Calder, Alex

Brewster -- both also Stewart's Melville former pupils -- and Andy

Irvine have played more often for Edinburgh.

Wyllie's international career also continued. He won another

replacement cap against Wales in Cardiff last month, again when Chalmers

was injured, and even though Scotland were well beaten, 29-6, Wyllie

showed up enough in liaison with Gregor Townsend for the national

selectors to forge the link more strongly for the imminent match against

the England.

Townsend, displacing Chalmers, will be at stand-off, with Wyllie

outside him. As a blend of youth and experience, Townsend will be

playing in his third game for Scotland whereas Wyllie is in his eleventh

season of international rugby, a career in which he has 15 caps, four

when he has come off the replacements' bench.

Wyllie has been a replacement 31 times for Scotland, and when added to

his caps, he has been on duty for 42 internationals. He has also been on

all but one of the 10 tours Scotland have made since 1984, though the

only time he has played as many as four successive internationals was

when he had to deputise as stand-off after John Rutherford's injury in

the opening match of the 1987 World Cup in New Zealand.

Until Scotland's tour to the South Pacific last year he had been out

in the cold since the 1991 World Cup. He was not needed even as an

international replacement in that time, he was not on the 1992 tour to

Australia, and it seemed his isolation might continue when Edinburgh

dropped him.

Wyllie himself suggested that his club's return to the national

league's first division has helped his revival, and under his captaincy

Stewart's Melville have been no pushovers. In the past month they have

even disposed of two championship challengers, Edinburgh Academicals and

Stirling County.

In his 10 years of international rugby Wyllie has played only once

against England, a 10-7 defeat at Twickenham in 1985, but he was a

replacement throughout the 1984 and 1990 Grand Slam campaign. He thus

knows at first hand the joy of beating the Auld Enemy, but he can

appreciate, too, that the match on Saturday will be as hard as any he

has played.

''England are the class team in the championship,'' he acknowledged.

''We'll have to play extremely well, but I'm going in confident in my

own ability.'' It was typical of him, assured but not cocksure.