Our Trustee Simon Scott awarded Scottish Rugby International cap nearly 40 years on
Simon Scott is one of our Trustees for Sporting Memories Foundation Scotland – the Scottish charitable arm of our organisation. Simon brings his wealth of financial experience to our board, but also holds a life-long passion for rugby. In fact, he had a remarkable playing career for Edinburgh Rugby as a Centre and was on the fringes of being called-up by Scotland – eventually playing for the national side in 1986.
However, the match wasn’t recognised at the time as a full international fixture, meaning Simon wasn’t considered ‘capped’ by his country. Following a review by the Scottish Rugby Union earlier this year into previous matches that weren’t deemed full internationals at the time, it was decided that Simon, along with his brother Julian, were finally awarded a full international cap for their match against France in Tarbes in 1986.
Simon spoke to us about his memories of the cap nearly four decades on and how it felt getting so close during that time to being considered a full international.
“My particular situation was involving a game on a tour of France and Spain in 1986. I had been close in my playing career to receiving a full cap at the time, I had been on three national trials, played for Scotland B a few times and I was also on the bench for four internationals – however, unlike today there were no tactical substitutes and you wouldn’t get on to the pitch unless there was an injury to a playing player. It happened that I never got on the pitch during those games.
“We had five matches on that tour (in 1986) – the first one was against Spain – and that was not capped, despite playing against their full-strength side. The tour culminated in a match against France which we all wanted to play in. However, at the time we were told that we would not be capped for that game, as it was being played a week before the French Cup Final and some of their (France) first-choice players would not be available due to that fixture, so the French decided they weren’t going to award caps and Scotland followed suit.
“I ended up being selected for that game – and it was a big game, played in front of circa 20,000 spectators. We had the national anthems before the game, both teams played in the national team kits. We actually ended up drawing the game against all odds. We were considered the underdogs for the game, considering the week before we had been comprehensively beaten by a Basque select team.”
Despite playing in that final game, Simon’s international hopes were curtailed in the coming months and years and he was never able to gain that full international cap that he had aspired to.
“That was 37 years ago now – and of course the following year the inaugural Rugby World Cup took place in New Zealand. Due to injuries following 1986, I wasn’t able to get back to how I was playing at the time and was only selected for the stand-by list for the tournament, so I never headed out to New Zealand.
“It was my biggest ever regret that I had never won a full cap for Scotland, as it was something I had always aimed to do from as early as my school days when I played alongside my good friends the Calder twins at Stewart’s Melville college, who obviously went on to play for Scotland many times and play for the Lions. So, it was a deep regret of mine which I have held on to for the past 37 years - it felt like a dream that had passed me by.”
But in late August, Simon received a phone call from Colin Rigby, the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) President, that he had finally been awarded his full international cap for the match against France in Tarbes and there was great emotion for Simon on a life-long aspiration fulfilled.
“When I got the call from the SRU President in August to say that I would be awarded a full cap for that game in 1986, I was absolutely delighted and finally the dream had come true. Even though it was 37 years later it was very emotional and something I was proud to be awarded.
“The door was always ajar, but I felt I was always stuck on the other side. So, when you get that (awarding of the cap) back, it’s basically your country saying ‘thank you’ - and also from a personal perspective it feels like that you have contributed to the history and legacy of Scottish rugby which means a huge deal to me.”