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Andrew Irvine

Andrew Irvine

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BornEdinburgh, September 16, 1951
PositionFull Back
Internationals51 caps between 1972 and 1982
InductedEngland v Scotland (March 22, 2003)

The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.

Twickenham was never a lucky place for Andy Irvine.

Scotland’s dazzling full back, blessed with pace and kicking power, never once tasted victory with Scotland at English rugby’s headquarters. “We never had much luck at Twickenham,” says Irvine, thinking back in particular to 1975, when the Scots arrived looking for their first Triple Crown for 38 years.

In that match England just managed to pip the Scots by a solitary point, although the means by which they won were dubious to say the least. Irvine, who went on to become managing director of a property consultant business in Edinburgh, recalls: “At one point someone kicked the ball over my head and I had a race with the England wing Alan Morley to touch it down over the line. I was convinced that he had not grounded the ball.

“These days there would have been numerous replays and a video referee, but then the man in the middle had the final say and he awarded England the try.

“But afterwards Morley, who was a mate of mine admitted, ‘I didn’t touch it down – the referee was wrong.’ But that is history now.”
But Irvine, who won 51 Scotland caps and made nine appearances for the British Isles on three tours in 1974, 1977 and 1980, admits: “Twickenham was a tough place and the atmosphere was amazing. The old stands were right up to the pitch-side and it was quite intimidating. It was also one of the noisiest stadiums. It was not a good ground for me when I was in Scottish colours, that’s for sure. 

 “I did OK for the Barbarians and the British and Irish Lions when we played there in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, but the best we did in my time down there was a draw in 1979.”

The other thing about Twickenham that Irvine was uncomfortable with was the pitch. “Because there were so many matches going on at the ground, with the Inter Services tournaments and Harlequins among others, they used to let the grass grow really long so that it would take more wear, I suppose.

But an airy-fairy back such as myself used to prefer hard, dry grounds so I could use my pace, which Twickenham did not encourage.”
He didn’t do too badly, though, and his tally of 273 points for Scotland and a further 28 for the Lions stood as a world record for five years after his retirement from the international stage, before Australia’s Michael Lynagh overtook him in 1987.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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