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Times change, likewise the game and the generational gap but the team Gavin Hastings captained throughout the 1995 Five Nations and the one now led by Kelly Brown in the RBS 6 Nations share a common denominator.
Neither was given a cat in hell’s chance. Eighteen years ago Scotland went into the Championship burdened by a run of nine matches without a win, a bleak scenario which prompted one magazine north of Hadrian’s Wall to run a cartoon depicting the demise of Scottish rugby in a coffin draped in a Saltire.
Under the command of their charismatic full-back and the coaching of Dougie Morgan, the resurrection began at Murrayfield against an Ireland team seen off the premises to the tune of 26-13.
As if to show that was no flash in the pan, Hastings & co then had the nerve to outpoint France in Paris, 23-21.
Back home, they treated their supporters to an action replay of the Ireland game, beating Wales by exactly the same score. Apart from Hastings at full back, they had his younger brother Scott in midfield alongside another youngster, the accomplished Gregor Townsend then of Gala.
They also had, among others, an all-Melrose pair at half back, Craig Chalmers and Bryan Redpath; a Melrose giraffe in the second row, Doddie Weir; a bear of a hooker, Kenny Milne; and a back row drawn from south of the border, Rob Wainwright (West Hartlepool), Eric Peters (Bath), Iain Morrison (London Scottish).
In the end, the Slam proved beyond them. England took it instead 24-12, a largely anti-climactic affair when every single point came from 12 shots at goal and not a try in sight.
There was never going to be anything as grand as a Slam this time, just hope of something more worthwhile than a wooden spoon. Facts had to be faced and the fact of the matter before last Sunday was that no Scotland team had won back-to-back in the Six Nations since 2001.
A team led by Budge Pountney beat Italy that year, then followed it up by lambasting Ireland in the Foot and Mouth match the following September.
The Scots ran riot with four tries and yet their opponents recovered rapidly enough under Keith Wood to hammer Wales in Cardiff by 30 points the following months and then ambush another English Grand Slam in Dublin the following week.
The Irish had not lost in Edinburgh since that year but then on Sunday they were revisiting Auld Reekie in a damaged state, minus seven front-line players (Paul O’Connell, Cian Healy, Stephen Ferris, Jonny Sexton, Gordon D’Arcy, Tommy Bowe, Simon Zebo).
If Scotland thought that would give them a fighting chance, they had another thing coming.
For most of the match it was business as usual with the Irish giving the distinct impression that they owned the place.
While there may be lies, damned lies and statistics, the figures for this one told it as it was in percentage terms – territory (77-23 Ireland), possession (71-29 Ireland).
For every tackle their opponent missed, Scotland missed four. For every metre they made, Ireland made almost three times as many. They included the distance four slashing breaks, the first two by Luke Marshall on debut, the third by Keith Earls, the fourth by Sean O’Brien.
Instead of making their opponents pay the minimum price of 20 points, they let them off scot free. At half-time, Johnson could not believe his luck at having conceded nothing more than a solitary penalty, from the newly-capped Paddy Jackson.
At the end, after Greig Laidlaw’s four penalties ensured that his team’s collective heroics had been rewarded with an implausible win, the Aussie in charge as interim head coach found the perfect sporting analogy.
Johnson’s language has always been colourful, in a perfectly acceptable sense, of course, and, in retrospect, the Irish would have found the last paragraph of his programme piece slightly disturbing.
“I reckoned that in week one at Twickenham it was a bit CSI at the contact from us and folk were looking for our fingerprints,” he wrote. “Week two, against Italy, and I thought there were some eye-witnesses to what we’d done. This week against Ireland we have to be right there at the scene of the action as the police are arriving – all within the laws of the game!’
The Irish would have been too embarrassed at losing 12-8 to report the robbery. True to form, Johnson rose to the occasion after the match, comparing what he had seen to what he remembered of The Rumble In The Jungle, the famous fight in Kinshasa, Zaire 38 years ago when Muhammad Ali outfoxed George Foreman with his rope-a-dope tactics.
“At half-time I felt as though I’d been watching the first part of Ali v Foreman,” he said of a fight which took place when he was all of 12 years old. “My neck was sore from looking down the same side of the pitch. When we went into half-time only three-nil down, I said, ‘we’d take this, wouldn’t we…?”
In Round Four next week, Wales take their turn to try and stop the Scottish bandwagon. If it turns out to be another home win to match those in the second and third rounds, the perennial wooden spoon contenders will be out on their own in second place, at the very worst.
England’s points-difference means that unless something outrageous happens in Edinburgh they will still head the table even though they don’t play until 24 hours later, against Italy on Sunday week. What cannot be denied is that the Scots can now look forward to a final eliminator for second place, at the very least.
That is quite something considering that only twice in the Six Nations have they finished as high as third, the last time as long ago as 2006.
They have not been higher since 1999 when the unforgettable finale to the last minute of the last match of the last Five Nations won Scotland the title while they sat and watched events unfold at Wembley.
England, odds-on favourites to complete the Slam then as they are now, outplayed Wales for much of a sunny Sunday afternoon in what was a home fixture for the Welsh, the Red Dragons having decamped to north London during the conversion of Cardiff Arms Park into the Millennium Stadium.
Scott Gibbs’ try and Neil Jenkins’ conversion made Scotland champions a fitting climax to Jim Telfer’s monumental coaching career.
Wales having done them a favour then, the Scots will need them to do another favour if they are to draw level with England at the top of the table on Saturday week.
More relevantly, Mr Brown’s boys will need to produce more than another rearguard action against a Welsh team very definitely back in the groove when it comes to winning on the road.