Gavin Hastings Exclusive Interview With OLBG

Updated: 59 Rugby Union

Gavin Hastings talks exclusively to OLBG ahead of the Six Nations.

Gavin Hastings Exclusive Interview With OLBG
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Gavin Hastings talks exclusively to OLBG. A former rugby union player often regarded as the best ever Scottish rugby player. He won 61 caps for Scotland, 20 as captain. He played for Watsonians, London Scottish, Cambridge University, Scotland and the British Lions. Here we get his insights ahead of the 2023 Six Nations.

  • Finn Russell is like George Best
  • All the pressure is on England and Steve Borthwick
  • Ruaraidh McConnichie deserves to play for Scotland
  • I can’t STAND people talking about my 1991 heartbreak

ALL THE PRESSURE IS ON ENGLAND IN THE 2023 SIX NATIONS

Steve BorthwickImage: skysports

‘All the pressure this year is going to be on Steve Borthwick and England.  It  will add an extra edge to that game, not that it needs an extra edge.

"Particularly this year, there will be huge excitement, from an English perspective, to see how Borthwick gets on.”

At the time of the interview (30 January 2023) UK betting sites were quoting England at 9/2 to win the Six Nations, 9/1 to win the grand slam and 5/1 to win the triple crown.


THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH A GREAT RIVALRY. IT’S FEAR OF LOSING AGAINST ENGLAND THAT BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN US

“As far as I'm concerned. It's the oldest international rugby match in the world. That's got to count for something in my book.

“We know as a nation, that if we don't play close to the best rugby that Scotland are capable of, we're going to get beat, and more likely we're going to get hammered. And that's because England, they've got so many more players to choose from. They are the old enemy.

“I actually don't see if anyone's complaining about what is wrong with having a massive sporting, right? That's the way it is. And it is. It's born out of the historical nature of the fixture.

“The fact that on most occasions, England, are capable of smashing Scotland. There’s  a fear in a way that probably tends to bring the best out in Scotland.

“Any victory over England at any time, at any sport, is a victory to be savoured. Because we all know how hard it is to achieve.  Surely nobody can be critical if you put it like that. That's what you want.

“You're playing sport, for goodness sake, you're not playing a nice friendly game of badminton. It’s sport at the highest level as far as we're concerned. And it's right that we want to beat our rivals with a bit of fear thrown in.”


FINN RUSSELL IS LIKE GEORGE BEST - I’D PICK HIM OVER MY SON FOR SCOTLAND

Finn RussellImage: skysports

“There's no doubt in my mind that even if Adam was fit then Finn Russell is the number one stand off and has been for a number of years. I have always been a fan of Finn Russell I have said forever.

“I think his play has definitely matured in the Scotland Jersey over the last two or three seasons.

“He’s like a sort of George Best type character that is possibly thinking so far ahead of his teammates, and they don't quite know where he is thinking. So the challenge, I guess, for Finn is for him to play with people that they're up to, up to speed with him.

“That’s not a criticism of him. That's just his genius in many respects. I believe he is the best passer of the ball in World Rugby bar nobody. I think his passing skills are just majestic. He has a pass that is superior to anybody else that plays the game in the world. I am not sure enough is made of his skills in that department.”


AFTER THEIR BUST UP FINN RUSSELL AND GREGOR TOWNSEND HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE BENEFIT OF SCOTLAND

“I'm sure Finn has his own views of his own desires, which express himself in the context of playing within the team.

“And that might not fit in with the way that Gregor wants the team to play but, as with every sort of maverick you've got to find a way to play and I think there's an understanding now between the pair of them. Finn is not a one night stand, so to speak.

“He is clearly capable of playing rugby at the very highest level, and he's capable of winning games almost on his own. If that’s going to give Scotland the chance to win a game down at Twickenham, you can't ignore that.

“You can't pretend that it's not to Scotland's advantage to play him. It would seem to me to be a no-brainer for the two of them not to work as well together as they possibly can.”


RURAIDH McCONNOCHIE MAY HAVE PLAYED FOR ENGLAND FIRST BUT HE’S SCOTTISH THROUGH AND THROUGH AND DESERVES TO BE IN THE SQUAD

Ruaridh McconnochieImage: shutterstock

“Ruaraidh is a bonafide Scot that happened to play for England so I have no issue with him now coming into the Scotland setup and if he's deemed by Gregor to be good enough, then that's great. You know, because we can ill afford to lose genuine bona fide players.

“I know his Dad very well actually. He is as Scottish as I am!

“I think there was some chat years ago that Ruraidh was keen to play for Scotland, and he's sort of somehow slipped under the radar.”


DON’T MENTION THE 1991 WORLD CUP SEMI FINAL – I MISSED THAT PENALTY AND I CAN’T I CAN’T STAND TALKING ABOUT IT

“In a 10 year career of playing international sport at the highest level the first thing people mention when they meet you is something that lasts a few seconds.

“It's pretty sad, and yet, I don't think it defines me. I'm glad it was me, that I was the kicker and nobody else because I know I could handle it. I have always said that.

“If the truth be told I can't stand people talking about it.”


MY BEST SCOTLAND TEAM AND JOHN RUTHERFORD WAS THE BEST FLY HALF I EVER PLAYED WITH

John RutherfordImage: Rugbymeet

“I’d pick a mix of the 1986 and 1990 teams. When we beat England in 1986 John was the fly half. I just wish I could have played my whole career with John Rutherford and that's no disrespect to Craig Chalmers who was a fantastic stand off.

“But I just think that John was peerless in his position. I just loved playing with him. And he was an amazing lad to play with, and he gave you so much confidence.

“Only four of us remained when we won the Grand  Slam in 1990 which is extraordinary. My brother Scott and I, and Finlay Calder and John Jeffrey. So for me it’s an amalgam of those two teams.”


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