Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Sunday, October 24, 1999 Published at 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK

Scottish rugby heroes bow out

Gary Armstrong: "He's the bravest man I have ever seen play for Scotland"

Scotland captain Gary Armstrong has announced his retirement from international rugby, as long-serving coach Jim Telfer takes his final bow after a fighting 30-18 defeat by New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Centre Alan Tait and prop Paul Burnell also decided to go out on the high note of their glorious performance in front of a capacity Murrayfield crowd on Sunday.

'They gave their all'

Armstrong had nothing but the highest praise for his players, who struggled against the elements and massive odds to produce an electrifying competition.

[ image: Jim Telfer: Taking a back-room role]
Jim Telfer: Taking a back-room role
"I could not have asked for anything more from the boys," he said.

"They gave their all. There were a lot of sad moments out there as a few players including myself had played for Scotland for the last time."

Telfer, who announced he would retire from coaching the national side when their involvement in the competition ended, had a special tribute for his departing captain.

Scottish icon

"He's the bravest man I have ever seen play for Scotland," he said.

[ image: Alan Tait: Scotland's most prolific try-scorer]
Alan Tait: Scotland's most prolific try-scorer
"Gary is an icon for Scottish rugby. He epitomises the best in the Scottish character."

Perhaps the 33-year-old's greatest triumph was captaining Scotland to last season's Five Nations championship after his side was written off as a 100-1 shot.

Tait, 35, is Scotland's top try-scorer with 17 touchdowns in 27 Tests. Burnell, a stalwart of the national side, recently celebrated his 50th cap and said before the World Cup he would retire at the end of the tournament.

Speaking about the game, Telfer said: "We made too many mistakes in the first 20 minutes and we gave them too big a lead.

"We gave them no chance in the second half ... but by that time the game was lost."

[ image: Paul Burnell: More than 50 caps]
Paul Burnell: More than 50 caps
He steps down after 20 years in the Scotland coaching set-up to resume his role as director of rugby at Murrayfield. He will be replaced by long-time coaching ally Ian McGeechan.

New Zealand coach John Hart mixed compliments for the Scots with criticism of his side's efficient performance.

"You have to give Scotland a lot of credit," said Hart.

"They threw everything at us, like we knew they would.

"Our performance was a mixture. We played extremely well in the first half and then we lost a bit of composure. Some things, like the lineout, did not function the way they should do."

He said that fly-half Andrew Mehrtens, one of the All Blacks key players, had been taken off at half time due to a "bang on the knee".

"We don't think there is any serious damage but we will not know for sure until he undergoes a scan tomorrow [Monday]," said Hart.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Rugby World Cup 1999
 -  Schedule & Results
 -  League Tables
 -  Grounds

Relevant Stories

24 Oct 99 | Scotland
All Blacks end it for gutsy Scots

17 Sep 99 | Scotland
Telfer the Terrible

24 Oct 99 | Scotland
Key player: Gregor Townsend